Jamie Wilson, superintendent of Denton ISD, has laid out what we know and what we hope to find out about next school year.
His comments came during the Denton Record-Chronicle editorial board meeting Wednesday afternoon, a meeting that was livestreamed.
Below are some of the main takeaways from the meeting:
Parents will likely have two basic options come August
Denton ISD families will likely have two broad options when the 2020-21 school year starts on Aug. 12: Students will take all classes online, or they will attend classes in person with whatever safety measures the district deems necessary.
As Wilson explained, and as Denton school board members discussed during their Tuesday meeting, nobody truly wants children to be wearing masks and steering clear of their friends. Regardless, those options might be necessary to increase safety.
Addressing that during Tuesday’s board meeting, Wilson told those listening that it isn’t quite fair to ask parents if they want their students wearing masks at school or avoiding large gatherings.
Instead, people should be asking, “Would you rather students return to the classroom with safety measures or have class all year online? Would you rather students return to classrooms on staggered schedules or have students complete the entire year online?”
Will students be wearing masks? What about district employees? How will students be able to safely ride the bus? What about field trips? Will schedules be staggered to reduce the number of people in campuses at any given time? What happens if I want to take classes online but still participate in extracurricular activities?
All those questions and more fall into the category of “known unknowns,” as Wilson made clear.
Most anybody being honest about the future is clear that anything could happen to throw all plans out the window in the seven or so weeks before students are scheduled to return to their campuses.
Expect a lot more detail in July
Speaking to the editorial board and virtual viewers Wednesday, Wilson said Denton ISD parents should expect much more detail closer to class registration scheduled for July.
He said the district might release a bit more information over the coming days. Registration will begin July 8, and more clear communication on what going back to school will look like is expected by the end of that month.
Beyond that, plans likely will be tweaked all the way up to, and well into, the start of the 2020-21 school year.
Teachers won’t necessarily teach online and in-person
Wilson speculated Tuesday that teachers in lower grades would likely teach in-person or online classes. The number of teachers devoted to virtual education at each grade level or campus would be determined based on how many families are planning to opt for that model.
In higher grades, he said it wouldn’t be unreasonable at this point to expect teachers to be leading some classes online and others in-person. As with everything during the pandemic, this remains speculative until it happens.
Your input is part of the process
Wilson made clear Wednesday that Denton ISD officials will be weighing input from parents, employees, students and community members along with the advice of medical professionals to create a science-based model.
More than 13,000 parents recently completed an electronic survey sent to them, and a survey for district employees is still open.