Here's a look at how online learning will be different for teachers and students this fall

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston ISD, along with Fort Bend, Alief, Aldine and La Porte ISDs are all starting the new school year online and will phase into in-person learning.

However, HISD will have a two week delayed start date and plans to continue online learning for at least the first six weeks of school.

Initially, the Texas Education Agency's guidance stated school districts would have to start in-person learning after the first three weeks of school.

This week, Governor Greg Abbott told ABC13 the Texas Education Commissioner was going to extend the deadline and give some flexibility to school districts.

"We might be able to extend the virtual instruction to longer than six weeks if additional flexibility is provided by TEA," Dr. Grenita Lathan, HISD Interim Superintendent said. "I want to thank our governor who spoke out on yesterday, and said that local districts deserve flexibility and control to make the decision that's in the best interest of the communities. I thank him, and we look forward to hearing additional information about that."

The TEA confirmed school districts will have flexibility, according to the Texas Tribune. District leaders told ABC13 the timeframe for how long online learning will last, depends on the current number of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the fall.

Ruth Kravetz, co-founder of Houston CVPE, said the state is holding CARE funds which school districts could use for funding.

"HISD needs to be at the forefront demanding the CARES (Act) funds," Kravetz said. "And the federal government needs to commit to paying money, so that for the length of the pandemic it may be six weeks, it may be 12 weeks, it may be longer."

When it comes to virtual learning, Kravetz said the students who will lose out the most are special education children without connectivity or access to high speed internet and students who are homeless or low-income families.

"Right now, what we have is an unfunded mandate," Kravetz said. "Virtual instruction will serve some kids, but won't serve many kids."

Lathan said the district is working on buying more technology to get into the hands of the students who's still in need.

Dr. Charles Dupree with Fort Bend ISD told ABC13 on Tuesday that the district will work to accommodate some students.

"We know that we will have some students in the building," Dr. Dupre said. "Now, it will be a very limited. Some of our special needs students, and I believe any of our students who do not have connectivity and we can't help them get connectivity, we're not going to let any children sit at home without education."

Candis Houston, President of Aldine American Federation of Teachers, said the number one question she's receiving is about where teachers will teach, online or in a classroom.

Houston said the answer is different for each district.

  • Houston ISD - teaching from home
  • Fort Bend ISD - teaching inside a classroom
  • Aldine ISD - teaching on campus

The teachers organization is also working to get teachers the supplies they need to be prepared for both in-person classes and online learning including, hand sanitizer, disinfecting spray, disinfecting wipes, hand soap, gloves, paper towels, clear backpacks, pens, pencils, crayons, construction, manila folders, markers, sharpies and sticky notes,

Donations can be sent to Aldine AFT located at 1404 N. Sam Houston Parkway East, Suite 150.

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