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How will the fall semester look? Dallas, Fort Worth school superintendents weigh in

Both superintendents said that the districts are looking at blended learning where students could learn in-person some days and learn online the other days.

The Fort Worth and Dallas school superintendents are considering a blended learning plan for the fall semester that could include a mixture of in-school and online coursework. 

Students are not allowed to return to school this year and have been completing their classes online because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

But while many businesses across Texas are starting to reopen, it remains unclear exactly when kids might return to the classroom. 

The Texas Education Agency, advising schools that there may be "short term disruptions" because of COVID-19 even as the next school year begins, recommends districts be ready with multiple options.

Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner and Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa discussed their fall plans Monday on Good Morning Texas. 

Both superintendents said that the districts are looking at blended learning where students could learn in-person some days of the week and learn online the other days of the week.

Dallas ISD

The district is looking at blended learning and other options, Hinojosa said. Another approach could be where elementary school students are in the building and the secondary students learn online. 

Lunches will likely be served in classrooms.

One of the main factors is ensuring classrooms follow social distancing guidelines.

“We’ll know more in a few weeks,” Hinojosa said. "We are planning on starting in mid-August. We don't know which plan we are going to execute. Plan A is business as usual. We doubt that's going to happen. Plan B is the current state. We know that's probably not going to happen, because things are improving."

RELATED: Dallas ISD 'likely' to return to class in the fall with blended learning at-home and on-campus

Fort Worth ISD

If Fort Worth ISD adopts the blended learning plan, teachers would have planning and preparation days on Friday, while students have two days in-class and two days online learning, Scribner said. The student body would be split up so that fewer students are in the building for in-person days.

“These are the kind of things that we’re exploring and studying and working with our colleagues across North Texas, and certainly Dr. Hinojosa and Dallas ISD, to make sure we are unified and united in regard to bringing everyone together and educating our students in the best way possible,” Scribner said.

Fort Worth ISD is hoping to have in-person classes at the end of July and beginning of August for students who are catching up academically, Scribner said. 

"We want to bring those students who have seen the academic regression and try to bring them back up to speed. So that when and if we get back to in-person instruction those students can be on the upward swing."

Is there any possibility students will be wearing masks?

Scribner said that anything is possible and the district is purchasing and gathering as many masks as possible.

“In Fort Worth ISD, like in many large districts, we will continue with regular wellness checks of students, families, faculty and staff,” Scribner said.

What about parents who are not comfortable sending their children back to school?

There will be “significant leeway” for Dallas ISD parents who do not want to send their children back to in-class learning, Hinojosa said. Dallas ISD is in contact with the state so that the district will still get funding for the students, even if parents don’t feel comfortable sending them back to school.

The district is sending parents and teachers a survey to see how comfortable they are about in-person classes.

What happens if a student gets sick? Will the school be closed?

Fort Worth ISD is working closely with the Tarrant County health department and municipalities to support the district and help guide them, Scribner said.

Scribner said that the district will continue deep cleaning and disinfecting the school on a regular basis. 

“School has always been the safest place for our students to be, we want to continue that even more so now when our students and families are in the greatest need,” Scribner said.

Will there be protections in place for older teachers?

Dallas ISD’s survey for teachers found teachers have specific health conditions, Hinojosa said.

“That’s why we have to be flexible about how we operate our master schedule because we may need the librarians and counselors to help out in specific classes where a teacher does not feel comfortable,” Hinojosa said.

Will districts need more teachers?

Currently, Dallas ISD can have 17 students in a classroom, per social distancing guidelines, Hinojosa said. The district may have to split up students into different classrooms.

Will students still have sports?

The state University Interscholastic League (UIL) regulates high school sports so the districts will receive guidance from them, but contact sports will change significantly, Hinojosa said. A viewer asked about football and Hinojosa said there could be 7-on-7 or flag football, but the UIL will make those decisions.

“Volleyball has a better chance of being viable, but, like you said, there’s a lot of issues when you make actual contact so you have to be very particular about what we’re allowed to do,” Hinojosa said.

WFAA reporter Kevin Reece contributed to this report.

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