Parents in Lewisville ISD are nearly split on their preference of sending their child back to school versus having some sort of virtual learning this fall.
Teachers are also divided nearly down the middle on their comfort level of returning to the classroom to teach with the current safety measures in place.
This is according to teacher and parent surveys the district conducted earlier this summer. The LISD staff presented those results to the Board of Trustees on Monday as the district prepares for the first day of school Aug. 19. Classes will be virtual until Sept. 8, at which point students can attend classes on campus or continue virtual learning.
According to the staff survey, 51.5 percent of campus staff and 53.1 percent of teachers said they feel unsafe or very unsafe teaching students on campus when the district is at the “level orange” – the most restrictive safety level next to shelter in place.
However, more staff said they would feel very safe or safe returning to campus to teach virtually with the children remote – 70 percent of all-campus staff and teachers – and 63 percent of staff and teachers said they’d feel very safe or safe under a hybrid model, which LISD calls Virtual Plus.
When asked what their preferred scenario would be, 34.6 percent of all staff said for students to return remotely with staff working from home. That was followed by students returning fulltime in some capacity with staff teaching in person (28.6 percent), staff working in person with a student hybrid model (20.4 percent) and all students learning remotely with staff in person (16.4 percent).
Board members and administrators said they were concerned the percentage of teachers who didn’t feel safe returning to campus is as high as it is.
“It didn’t make me feel any better to see the numbers look like that,” Trustee Tracy Scott Miller said.
Superintendent Kevin Rogers said he’s hopeful that more teachers would feel comfortable teaching in the classroom now that the parent survey indicates that nearly half of parents say they prefer virtual learning.
He said the district has taken a lot of safety precautions to prepare for in-person learning.
“I don’t know what else we as a district could do,” Rogers said. “We have done every safety measure put out by CDC.”
That includes the purchase of personal protective equipment, desk shields, thermometers and cleaning.
Rogers said one positive from the teacher survey is that 70 percent of teachers felt comfortable if the students are remote, especially since the district will begin the year under a virtual plan.
“Our preference is they work from the classroom,” Rogers said. “That’s the best environment for them to work. That’s where they have all their materials, that’s where they have the best internet connection and so on.”
Trustee Jenny Proznik said she’s hopeful teachers will feel more at ease once they return to the campus.
“I would hope as teachers come back and they can have face-to-face conversations with their campus leaders, and they can perhaps see some of the physical changes that have happened to their campuses that they would be more confident coming back and teaching in person,” Trustee Jenny Proznik said. “There is nothing more important in a classroom than a teacher in it. There just isn’t.”
According to the parent survey, 52.8 percent of elementary parents selected in-person classes for their child this fall compared to 46.3 percent who chose virtual learning.
At the secondary level, 48.1 percent chose in-person versus 31.5 percent virtual. A small percentage at each level chose to withdraw their students this year.
Any family that didn’t respond to the commitment form is being counted as attending in-person classes.
LISD is offering a virtual and a Virtual Plus, which is mostly at-home learning with some courses being allowed in person, at the secondary level.
With the percentage of parents choosing the virtual option, officials said that may increase the number of teachers that deliver instruction virtually.
“The number of teachers we need to teach in the virtual model is much larger truly than the request of people who may want to not want to work from home,” Deputy Superintendent Lori Rapp said. “It’s a large number to serve when you see those numbers. A lot of teachers will be teaching in the virtual.”
Rogers said that may go against what some teachers want to do.
“You’ll hear from teachers who really didn’t want to teach virtual but they’re being forced to because we need them because the numbers dictate that when it’s 50-50,” Rogers said.