Online School

13 Fort Bend ISD schools pivot online effective

Written by Mamie M. Arndt

Thirteen Fort Bend ISD schools have pivoted from face-to-face instruction to online learning effective Friday, Jan. 29, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the district reported in an update.

a person sitting at a table using a laptop: In this file image, a Fort Bend ISD students engages with a teacher online in a video posted to the district website.

© Fort Bend ISD

In this file image, a Fort Bend ISD students engages with a teacher online in a video posted to the district website.

Fort Bend ISD Superintendent of Schools Charles Dupre said this was mainly because coronavirus exposure had forced a large number students and teachers into quarantine, and only partly because of confirmed positive cases.

“Many teachers cannot come to work, and we just don’t have enough substitute teachers or available district resources — enough adults in the building — to keep the school open,” Dupre said. “That’s why we have had a real sub shortage all year.”

Dupre said the district had been sending administrative staff from the central office to school campuses as classroom substitutes.

“It gets to a point where we just don’t have enough resources and we need to pivot some of the schools to full remote,” Dupre said. “And that’s what you’re seeing over the last couple of weeks.”

As of Friday, Jan. 29, there are 310 active reported cases of COVID-19 in Fort Bend ISD, including 97 employees and 213 students.

“We think it’s related to the post-holiday surge,” said Dupree. “There are a lot of people who are being diagnosed positive. Not in a school environment, but from outside. Whether it’s an adult or a child, if they’ve been in the building and then test positive, it causes others to have to quarantine.”

Briargate Elementary School in Missouri City became the latest to shift to virtual classes, following an assessment by the Fort Bend ISD COVID Response Team. Briargate will conduct online learning from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5. It is yet to be determined when the schools will resume normal, in-person schedules.

“I’m going to be honest,” Dupre said. “Our kids are struggling. They miss their routine, their friends, and teachers. Of course, we have many kids who are thriving in an online learning environment because it suits their personality. But a vast majority miss the socialization and feel isolated. It’s a challenging time for students.”

The district was working hard to keep its remaining schools open, Dupre said, and to reopen the ones that had to close. He praised district teachers and students for their resilience.

“We’re just doubling down and committed to helping students make as much academic progress as they can,” Dupre said. “Every single teacher in our district is carrying a very heavy load, they’re going above and beyond in every single way serve the needs of our students.”

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Mamie M. Arndt