The meeting began only hours after LTISD announced in-person instruction will be suspended through Sept. 8 in accordance with an order issued July 14 by the city of Austin and Travis County—a decision that received criticism from several LTISD parents.
“My children need to be in school,” said Erica Stanton, a parent with children enrolled at LTISD. “They did not do well with online learning at home. If masks work fine in H-E-B and Target, why can’t we [go] back to school as promised?”
Stanton’s concerns were echoed by several community members during the meeting’s open forum session, which took place both in person and virtually.
Lancaster responded that some decisions for the upcoming school year will fall outside of the district’s authority, including the recent Travis County order.
“I want to clarify to the public: This is not a choice by our school district,” Lancaster said, adding that other policymakers, such as Gov. Greg Abbott, could still attempt to challenge recent orders.
Several parents highlighted a previous survey conducted by LTISD, which reported that nearly 70% of parents wanted their children to return to campus in August.
However, those results are null if the district is legally unable to open, Lancaster said.
While certain details have not yet been announced, district officials have assured parents that remote learning will be far more substantial than what was administered in the spring, with more intense and scheduled teacher interactions.
The remote learning model provides individual schedules for the elementary and secondary school levels, with each serving as a framework for how students can check in with their teachers and complete classwork, according to Elizabeth Deterra, assistant superintendent of learning and teaching services
“The framework for the schedule is in place, but if it’s not followed exactly, that’s fine,” Deterra said, adding that this will provide flexibility for students who may require parental assistance throughout the day.