As the new school year approaches, Richardson ISD is working to ease student and teacher health concerns by ensuring a safe learning environment for all.
“Everyone is all hands on deck, preparing for September and preparing for Aug. 19,” Superintendent Jeannie Stone said of the upcoming school year’s respective in-person and virtual start dates.
More than 53%, or 19,938 students, plan to return for face-to-face learning Sept. 8, according to a presentation made at the Aug. 10 board of trustees meeting. Roughly 45%, or 16,859 students, will participate in virtual learning. The remaining 1.6% of students polled will not return to the district this fall.
Of the 3,220 responses from staff members, 46.6% said they were interested in virtual school. In a separate question, 37.8% of staff said they were very concerned about returning to face-to-face instruction.
The number of students and staff opting for face-to-face versus virtual school were fairly even keeled, Deputy Superintendent Tabitha Branum said.
“The supply and demand on each side was pretty equal,” she said.
All students will begin the school year Aug. 19 in a fully virtual format, per a Dallas County order. To ensure students have the tools to be successful, the district has been preparing its technology department, Chief Technology Officer Henry Hall said.
Over 30,000 devices have been issued since March, Hall said. The district has also extended its help desk services for students and parents.
The district paired with Operation Connectivity, a statewide initiative that began in Dallas ISD and aims to deliver internet connectivity and device solutions for school districts, according to a May 8 press release from the Office of Gov. Greg Abbott. The Texas Education Agency and several other Collin County districts are also part of the coalition.
Extensive virtual learning training for staff has been ongoing, said Kristin Byno, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. The training helped teachers navigate both synchronous—or real-time, teacher-guide learning—and asynchronous learning, a self-guided method that involves intermittent teacher contact. Both methods will be used in the virtual school format.
Stone also spoke about the possibility of extending the Sept. 8 in-person start date. She said the district will continue to work with local health experts in making that decision.
To find the district’s return-to-school plans, click here.