Round Rock ISD teachers: ‘on-campus instruction will be identical to virtual’, district discussing flexibility options

Williamson County

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — In-person learning for students in the Round Rock Independent School District will be identical to virtual instruction from home, several RRISD teachers have shared with KXAN.

Round Rock ISD officials have not officially confirmed this scenario to KXAN but said it is one being discussed.

Multiple teachers, under the promise of anonymity, shared the discussion topics and Powerpoint slides from an all-staff meeting held Thursday morning.

They said their motive to reveal the plans was to help parents make more informed decisions for their kids.

The teachers said students who report to campus will have an assigned classroom and desk where they will stay for the entire day and complete the same virtual work as students at home. Assigned educators will “monitor” the room of students.

They said the district’s purpose for a “100% virtual instructional model” is to ensure equity in the educational experience for all students, allow them to transition between the two models seamlessly and help teachers focus on a single instructional model.

But this strategy might conflict with preconceived notions parents might have about what on-campus learning and interactions with teachers looks like.

“I don’t think [parents] realize that is what [students] are going to be doing if they select the in-person option as opposed to staying at home,” one teacher said. “And this could all change as our COVID cases change, but for right now, this is how school is going to be.”

“Seems like an unnecessary risk,” a different RRISD teacher, familiar with the situation, said. “Parents should know what they are getting into.”

A district spokesperson said this is only one of several potential scenarios administrators are considering.

She said district officials are working around-the-clock to come up with different options for families who will opt-in to on-campus learning. Other factors being considered — which might change the plan for when on-campus instruction begins — includes student population, local COVID-19 numbers and the size of the campus.

With on-campus learning not beginning until Sept. 10 at the earliest, the district says it will use all the time possible to create the most flexible plan possible to meet the needs of students and families who require on-campus learning.

According to the district, the most recent survey revealed RRISD parents were split: About 50% said they would send their students to campus while the other half said they would keep them at home.

According to the published plans on the RRISD website, “students participating in on-campus learning will follow a traditional Monday through Friday schedule and be assessed on their mastery of the TEKS standards.”

The district says students will be confined to the same classroom or work space during periods of high disease activity, which will be lessened as the local COVID-19 activity lessens.

The district will host a virtual town hall next Thursday, July 30, where on-campus instruction plans in middle and high school will be discussed. The town hall for elementary students is on Tuesday.

There is also a survey sent on Wednesday that asks for parents most likely choice which will remain open until at least Aug. 6.

That’s also a big factor guiding the districts decision-making: they still don’t know which option parents will officially choose for their kids. While early survey results show the two options have about equal favorability, the district wants to see final numbers before committing to a specific plan.

Parents KXAN spoke to had mixed opinions.

Lonnie Olsen, a father to three RRISD students, said it wouldn’t matter if on-campus learning was virtual. He and his wife are full-time workers and would need the extra set of hands to watch the kids while they kept up their schedule.

Besides, sitting in a classroom will likely keep them focused on the work, Olsen said.

“My kids, anyway, would be more focused in a classroom, even if it was virtual, then at home. There’s too many distractions,” Olsen said. “It would require one of us to be here to do that same thing, too.”

Luis Lopez, a father to two, including one RRISD high school student, said if his son can’t get the social interaction from fellow students and teachers, he’d rather have him stay and work from home, a luxury also afforded to him.

“Why and I going to send my kids to school if he is just going to sit in front of a laptop and see someone else teach from their laptop from their home?” Lopez said. “They’re not going to be getting out of it as much as we will be putting into it with the added concern.”

Reach KXAN’s Education Reporter Alex Caprariello by email at alexc@kxan.com or by phone at (512) 703-5365, or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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