‘It was every bit as challenging as we knew it was going to be’: Fort Bend ISD leaders, board discuss transition back to classrooms

As some Fort Bend ISD students returned to the classroom, trustees returned to the boardroom for the first time since March for their Oct. 12 meeting. (Screenshot courtesy Fort Bend ISD)
As some Fort Bend ISD students returned to the classroom, trustees returned to the boardroom for the first time since March for their Oct. 12 meeting. (Screenshot courtesy Fort Bend ISD)

As some Fort Bend ISD students returned to the classroom, trustees returned to the boardroom for the first time since March for their Oct. 12 meeting. (Screenshot courtesy Fort Bend ISD)

With the district's first week of running face-to-face and online learning models underway, Fort Bend ISD is continuing to work out scheduling kinks and other challenges, Superintendent Charles Dupre said at the Oct. 12 board of trustees meeting.

“Schedules are still not perfect,” Dupre said. The campuses are still scrubbing their schedules—they are scrubbing student schedules [and] teacher schedules to balance workloads and to make sure things are where they need to be to best serve students.”

Despite this, Dupre said he feels good about the state of the transition back to in-person learning.

Furthermore, he said, all students who opted in to face-to-face learning instruction have returned to the classroom. Approximately 40% of FBISD students requested face-to-face learning, while the remaining 60% chose to continue with online learning for the second nine-week grading period.

Trustee Kristin Tassin expressed concern about the district’s use of unaligned schedules—a system in which students who returned in person are operating on a different schedule than those who have remained online—and asked if the district was considering pivoting to aligned bell schedules.


Dupre said the unaligned schedule allows for the most effective use of staff and the ability for online learners to participate in fine arts or athletics classes in person during the school day and that it allows older students to help care for younger students who are at home during online learning.

“When I talk to parents and teachers about this issue, one of the questions I ask them—and I mean it not facetiously, but honestly—is, ‘Would we have chosen this challenging course if we did not believe it was the right thing?'” Dupre said. “To most people, all of the problems would be solved if we just aligned the schedule. I think that’s a shortsighted view because our focus has been consistently that quality instruction is our top goal.”

Still, as schedules are ironed out and teachers continue to request medical accommodations because of the pandemic, Dupre said there are approximately 200 members of the district’s central office staff filling in teacher and monitor roles on campuses.

These ongoing scheduling changes are causing technical difficulties, as the district’s programs take several days to sync with one another, which can cause confusion as parents and students can see changes in real time.

Trustee Allison Drew said while she understands this technology disruption, it would be helpful for the district to communicate how long these issues will last.

During the meeting, FBISD staff also provided an update to the district’s response plan on how positive coronavirus cases are handled on campuses and the necessary contact tracing procedures.

The Oct. 13 board meeting was the first in-person meeting FBISD trustees have held since the onset of the pandemic in March. Drew and trustee Grayle James participated in the meeting via video call.

By Claire Shoop
Claire joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2019 as the reporter for the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2019 where she studied journalism, government and Arabic. While in school, Claire was a fellow for The Texas Tribune, worked for the student newspaper, The Daily Texan, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C. She enjoys playing cards with her family and listening to the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.


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