VISD trustees to consider fate of remote instruction

The Vernon ISD returned to in-person instruction this week following a week of remote instruction, due to low staff from Covid-9 quarantines.

The district has allowed students to chose either in-person or remote instruction this first semester of the school year, that may change. When schools reopened for the fall semester, the state education agency required they offer an in-person learning option. Texas recently changed its guidance and allowed districts to require students to return in person or find another district for remote learning.

Following the state guidance change on remote learning, the Vernon ISD board of trustees have discussed whether to allow remote instruction next semester.  As part of that previous discussion, they have scheduled a board meeting next Monday night, and are expected to decide whether to allow non-quarantined students the remote learning option or to end it. The trustees are scheduled to meet Monday, Dec. 13 at 6:30 at the Administration Building, next door to City Hall.

At issue is the high number of remote learning students that are failing. Some students are turning in assignments late or not at all; some students are skipping days of virtual school; some are falling behind on reading.

And the strain on teachers who are having to teach both ways is mounting. Superintendent Jeff Byrd told the trustees, in their November meeting, that going both ways was difficult and time-consuming for teachers, who are putting in 12 to 14-hour days without any additional compensation.

“Our teachers are exhausted,” Byrd told the trustees. “Everything we do is to put our students’ needs first, but we’ve got to take under consideration that our teachers are mentally and emotionally spent.”

The trustees asked staff to provide them with data related to how well remote students were doing. The data was provided to the trustees, in advance of the trustees making a decision in the December meeting.

The data, requested by the Vernon Record and given to the newspaper, showed that a third to half of all students choosing off-campus remote learning are failing at least one class. For instance, there were 7 full-time asynchronous learners at McCord, with 4 reported as successful.  At Shive, there were 98 remote learners in the first 9 weeks and 100 in the second. Of those, 46 students failed a class in the first 9 weeks, and 37 failed a class in the second set of weeks — 34 failed a class in both set of weeks. At the Middle School, 11 of 36 remote learners failed a class in the first 9 weeks, and 11 of 34 failed a class in the 2nd 9 weeks. Nine failed a class in both set of weeks.

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