During a Sept. 16 board meeting, Lake Travis ISD students spoke on behalf of their teachers who were denied the option to work remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“My teachers have been my guiding lights,” said Carson Hammock, a senior at Lake Travis High School. “Some of those teachers are being terminated or were forced to resign because we are not being flexible.”
Students drafted an online petition approaching 330 signatures titled “Give Lake Travis Independent School District teachers the option to teach remote classes.”
About 177 LTISD teachers requested to work remotely through a July survey distributed by the district. Superintendent Paul Norton stated about 70 were approved so far.
LTISD was able to accommodate requests for every teacher who presented serious health risks. However, Norton said the district is still working to fulfill accommodations, particularly for staff with family members who have health conditions that could make a COVID-19 diagnosis more serious.
The board of trustees approved a plan Sept. 1 to phase students back on campus. Barring any changes, in-person learning will be available for all students Sept. 21.
Approximately 60% of families requested in-person learning through the district’s final commitment forms. Norton said LTISD could not effectively educate those in-person students if officials approved every teacher’s request.
“If we accommodated everybody, all of the teachers ... what would happen on Monday is all of the kids that have indicated they’re going back to school would show up at school and there would not be [enough teachers] in their classroom,” trustee Bob Dorsett Jr. said. “Is that functional education?”
However, LTISD hired eight additional substitute teachers to monitor students on campus who will be taught by remote teachers. Norton said the district will also utilize teacher’s aides and librarians.
Of the eight substitute teachers, only two agreed to work at Lake Travis High School. Norton said this is in part due to the higher content level offered. Fulfilling teachers' requests was also difficult at the high school level because of the increase in specialized subjects.