Leander ISD reconsiders hybrid learning model, potentially shaking up learning choices

(Community Impact Newspaper file photo)
(Community Impact Newspaper file photo)

(Community Impact Newspaper file photo)

Leander ISD is researching the possibility of offering elementary students a third instructional option—hybrid learning—for the 2020-21 school year, according to discussions at the July 23 board of trustees meeting.

If approved, LISD parents and guardians could choose between in-person, hybrid or remote learning for their elementary students when campuses reopen Sept. 8.

LISD is also researching replacing in-person instruction with hybrid learning at the high school level. If enacted, high school parents could choose between remote or hybrid instruction, but they would no longer have the choice of 100% in-person learning.

Under the current plan, all of LISD’s approximately 42,000 students will receive 100% remote instruction when school starts Aug. 13. On Sept. 8, students will receive 100% in-person or 100% remote learning. LISD spokesperson Corey Ryan said parents and guardians will have until Aug. 6 to decide on an instructional model for their students.

At the July 23 meeting, Area Superintendent Devin Padavil said staff is taking a second look at hybrid instruction because of its potential to create smaller classroom sizes. Due to elementary staffing, the district has the flexibility to offer all three options—in-person, hybrid and remote—at the district’s 27 elementary schools, but not at its six high schools.

“At the high school level, if we do put out a hybrid option, that would replace the 100% in person,” Superintendent Bruce Gearing told trustees. “There are still only two choices.”

Participation in hybrid instruction would have to be significant to warrant its implementation for high school students, according to Gearing.

“We have to have good enrollment for it to work,” he said.

Hybrid, or blended, learning uses remote learning on certain days and in-person instruction on other days. LISD researched hybrid learning earlier in the spring until the Texas Education Agency said schools that incorporate hybrid learning could receive less state funding.

The TEA recently changed course and said districts using hybrid learning would not receive less funding, and local health officials would determine when schools should reopen.

“The TEA took away that [hybrid] option, and then they turned around and said you may be able to do the hybrid after all,” Gearing said.

According to Gearing, the most recent Austin-Travis County health order gives districts the option to extend 100% remote learning another four weeks.

If implemented, the new order would delay in-person learning in LISD until Oct. 5.
By Brian Perdue
Brian Perdue is the editor of the Lake Travis-Westlake and Northwest Austin editions of Community Impact Newspaper. A native of Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, he has been a journalist since 1992, living and working in Virginia, Washington D.C., Hawaii's Big Island, Southern California and Florida before moving to Austin in 2019.


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