Health authorities order remote-only instruction at Tarrant County schools until Sept. 28

Tarrant County's order pushes the resumption of in-person learning until Sept. 28. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Tarrant County's order pushes the resumption of in-person learning until Sept. 28. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Tarrant County's order pushes the resumption of in-person learning until Sept. 28. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include additional comments from school districts.

A new Tarrant County executive order is pushing back the start of in-person learning at schools until Sept. 28.

Local health authorities said the recent surge in COVID-19 cases has yet to level off in a way that would allow for a safe reopening of in-person learning. Tarrant County reported 663 new cases from July 20-21.

“We are terribly afraid that if we don't make some effort to just delay the opening of schools—to let the numbers kind of flatten out a little bit—that we might jeopardize our capacity to care for people," said Dr. Catherine Colquitt, the county’s medical director. “That gives us a whole incubation period with COVID[-19], plus about six more days to see the downstream effects of Labor Day."

There are some exceptions to the ruling that will push back in-person learning, Colquitt said of the order, which went into effect July 21. Those exceptions include students who do not have access to an internet connection and those whose education plans cannot be accomplished remotely, as well as special education students.

Additionally, there are exceptions for certain activities, such as band, choir and sports, that can be conducted either remotely or outside while adhering to mask and social distancing guidelines, Colquitt said.

The order only applies to public schools and private, nonreligious schools, according to the executive order.

"We are urging the religious private schools to adopt guidelines that look like these because we think this is ... the best compromise agreement that we could come up with that respects what COVID is doing in our community and tries to stave off the effects a little bit longer,” Colquitt said.

The order states that school facilities may also continue to be used by personnel for the purpose of providing virtual learning as well as for the distribution of free and reduced lunch services.

School districts must provide a written plan for hosting in-person instruction and extracurricular activities two weeks before campuses reopen, according to the order.

In a letter to families and staff, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Superintendent Robin Ryan said the first day of remote instruction for the district will still be Aug. 17. The district is now adjusting its remote learning plan to adhere to state requirements, he said in the letter.

"Remote learning in fall 2020 will be a different model from Learning@Home in the spring,” Ryan said in the letter. "We will include academic and social/emotional support to continue to meet the needs of our students and staff, while also meeting state requirements for accountability and student academic progress."

Keller ISD's communications team said the district will begin holding remote classes Aug. 19 and will begin in-person classes Sept. 28. The district is still asking families to indicate whether their student will participate in virtual or in-person learning for when campuses reopen.

Carroll ISD's leadership team announced that the school year will begin with online-only instruction, but teachers and support staff will be allowed on campuses to deliver their lessons. The district is also reviewing recent University Interscholastic League modifications for the 2020-21 school year, and its athletic department will provide more information as soon as possible.

A Northwest ISD spokesperson confirmed all students will begin the school year as remote learners on the district's original start date, Aug. 20. Superintendent Ryder Warren will also provide an update on the district's plan for the new UIL calendar at a July 23 Facebook live chat at 6 p.m.

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath announced July 17 that local school districts would have the flexibility to push back the start of in-person learning.

"We know that there are parents who are nervous and who want to keep their children home, and for that, we will support them with remote instruction 100% of the way," Morath said in a video announcement. "But we also know that the on-campus instructional environment is invaluable, that a child's academic and social growth flourishes in a Texas public school."

"As a result," Morath continued, "our framework ensures that there will be on-campus instruction available for all students who need it in the state of Texas. But at the same time, we know we need to provide local schools flexibility to adapt to local health conditions, especially given the rise in COVID[-19] cases that we're seeing across the state.

By Gavin Pugh
Gavin has reported for Community Impact Newspaper since June 2017. His beat has included Dallas Area Rapid Transit, public and higher education, school and municipal governments and more. He now serves as the editor of the Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake edition.


The Blu Crab Seafood House and Bar is now open on Colleyville Boulevard in Colleyville. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)
Blu Crab Seafood House relocates to Colleyville

The Blu Crab Seafood House and Bar has relocated from its Fort Worth location to Colleyville.

Scooter's Coffee is now open at 1451 E. Buckingham Road in Richardson. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
Scooter's Coffee opens in Richardson; Hawaiian Bros restaurant coming to Fort Worth and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The city of Southlake's annual Celebrate Southlake has been moved to a virtual format and will be held March 21-27. (Courtesy city of Southlake)
Celebrate Southlake event goes virtual this year; schedule to be announced soon

Due to health concerns, the annual Celebrate Southlake will be held virtually this year. A schedule of events has yet to be announced.

Harvest Hall officially opened Feb. 6 in Grapevine as part of the Grapevine Main development. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harvest Hall now open in Grapevine, new dining options in Fort Worth and more DFW news from February

Here are some of the top stories from the past month from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Two hundred rail pieces were delivered east of Shiloh Road in Plano in late 2020, according to a Dec. 18 DART release. (Courtesy Dallas Area Rapid Transit)
DART to save millions on Silver Line project following approval of refinanced loan from U.S. Department of Transportation

The $908 million loan was approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Build America Bureau in 2018, according to a Feb. 25 news release.

At its peak of power loss, the city had roughly 50,000 homes with interrupted power, many of which had prolonged outages, Plano City Manager Mark Israelson said. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plano faces long-term impacts from storm; Collin County vaccine hubs resume service and more DFW-area news

Read the top business and community news from this week from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Any Lab Test Now will be opening a new clinic in early March in Southlake. (Courtesy Any Lab Test Now)
Any Lab Test Now coming soon to Southlake

Any Lab Test Now will be opening a location in Southlake in March.

Restore Hyper Wellness   Cryotherapy will open in Southlake in March. (Courtesy of Restore Hyper Wellness   Cryotherapy)
Restore wellness center set to open in Southlake in March

Restore Hyper Wellness + Cryotherapy will open mid-March on Southlake Blvd.

Mattress Depot is now open on Southlake Boulevard. (Adobe Stock)
Mattress Depot location now open in Southlake

Mattress Depot is a family-owned business and opened a location in Southlake on Feb. 8.

Construction notification signs next to Cheek-Sparger Road
Cheek-Sparger Road upgrades scheduled in Colleyville

A portion of Cheek-Sparger Road near Colleyville Boulevard will be open to westbound traffic only.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

The city of Grapevine will be waiving certain fees related to damage caused by Winter Storm Uri. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Grapevine waives fees, provides other assistance for residents affected by winter storm

Grapevine residents will not see February in their average sanitary sewer rates to reflect accurate water usage during the winter storm.