District to open school year with masks, pre-K through 6th virtual learning option


Sidekick file photo

Coppell High School English II teacher Stephen Patino assists CHS sophomore Macy Baume during fifth period in his classroom on Oct. 19. Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, the mandatory mask mandate will be reinstated for grades pre-K through grade 12 while a temporary virtual schooling option is available for pre-K through grade for the first nine weeks of school.

Anjali Vishwanath, Daily News/Assignment Editor

On Tuesday, Coppell ISD announced that there will be a virtual learning option for pre-K to sixth grade students for the first nine weeks of the 2021-22 school year. Today, it announced Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins’s emergency renewal of the mask mandate for all people in pre-K through 12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Jenkins’s renewal of the mask mandate in all pre-K through 12 schools overrules Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order overruling the mask mandate because of a court ruling providing a temporary restraining order to the governor’s executive order.

Effective Thursday, all individuals are required to wear masks indoors at all Coppell ISD campuses and facilities. 

According to the message from Superintendent Dr. Brad Hunt, CISD parents of eligible students will have until Thursday to make a decision regarding virtual instruction. Should they opt for virtual learning, the school year will start on Aug. 23 to allow teachers time to plan digital lessons.

“For the most part, there will be separate teachers for in person learning and virtual learning,” CISD director of communications Amanda Simpson said. “They will not be doing both like last year.  There may be some exceptions to this for middle school electives who only have one teacher, but we won’t know until we have the final numbers.”

Some virtual students may be taught by teachers from other campuses, rather than their own school. This system is in place to prevent teachers from having to split their time between instructing both virtual and in-person students simultaneously.

CISD is funding this temporary virtual learning program itself, and while the district hopes to receive state funding, it is not offered at this time. The costs of temporary virtual learning are not currently known, and will be calculated after students have committed to virtual learning.

“The decision to provide a temporary virtual learning option was made due to the concerns of our families who could not be vaccinated and their demand for this option,” Simpson said. “Many of our neighboring school districts were providing similar options.”

A growing number of parents have petitioned the district and state for a virtual learning option this year, with some taking to the street outside of the Vonita White Administration building this morning to request the mask mandate to be renewed. The dozen CISD parents at the protest also want the virtual learning option to be expanded to cover grades pre-K through 12, rather than just pre-K through 6.

Abbott responded to Jenkins’s ruling in a Tweet, saying that “Any school district, public university, or local government official that decides to defy GA-38—which prohibits gov’t entities from mandating masks—will be taken to court.”

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