Schools across Texas will remain shuttered for the remainder of the school year, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday afternoon.
The announcement was made during press conference Friday in which Abbott announced the first steps of reopening the state of Texas and its economy following the COVID-19 health crisis.
Despite the governor’s office remaining tight-lipped regarding the announcement, Denison Independent School District Superintendent Henry Scott said he fully expected the decision.
“I don’t see any way that we could be back in school for the rest of the school year,” he said. “I think it would be a bad move, and everyone I’ve spoken to — school superintendents — have pretty well determined that this school year is not going to be back.”
In mid-March, the district transitioned from in-classroom lessons to utilizing remote education, where students could conduct their studies from home. With the announcement, this program will be used for the remainder of the school year.
“It is not ideal; We would much rather have the students engaged in the classroom, but it has gone pretty well for us,” Scott said. “The reports that I get are that it is working out as well as it can be.”
Despite some successes with the online and remote learning programs, Scott said there are some aspects of school that simply cannot transition over. Spring sports and other activities include one-act play have effectively been canceled. Meanwhile, students miss out on important secondary benefits of being in the classroom, including socialization.
Even some programs after the end of the school year may be affected, Scott said. Specifically, Scott said that summer school likely will not be held this year, or will be delayed until near the end of the season.
However, some aspects never change. Like traditional classes, Scott said students will still need to take final exams. However, teachers will take a lenient approach to grading this semester.
“We are going to be very liberal in our grading from the standpoint of failing somebody that is at least trying online,” Scott said. “We aren’t going to do that. We aren’t going to affect someone that way.“
One of the current questions that still remains is how the district will address commencement and graduation at the end of the semester.
“The big deal, and we’ve had conversations about this, is what are we going to do for our graduates,” “I don’t see any way we can have graduation, so we are going to have to find some way to have a virtual graduation or put it off until later in the summer and find other ways to honor these graduates.”
During Friday’s conference, Abbott said the Texas Education Agency would be issuing recommendations in the coming days on how to proceed with graduation.
“It is a trying time for everybody,” Scott said. “Hopefully we can get through this and honor our students, our graduates, in a way they need to be honored and hopefully when we come back in August things will be different.”
During Friday’s press conference, Abbott announced small steps will be taken next week to reopen the state with proper precautions and safety measures put in place to prevent the further spread of the virus.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.