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Fort Worth ISD Trustees Decide to Delay Opening of School Until September 8

The Fort Worth ISD Board of Education today voted 8 to 1 to delay the opening of the 2020-21 school year until September 8 and then to offer online, at home learning only for the first four weeks, embracing a “safety first” measure for students and employees during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Then, following the four weeks of online instruction, trustees will again evaluate the public health crisis and the trajectory of COVID-19 cases.

“Our Board strongly supports and prioritizes the health and safety of our children and employees,” said Superintendent Kent P. Scribner. “Our goal is to get students back in school when it is safe to do so.”

The decision came at the end of an emergency meeting that began at 8 a.m. and lasted until 1:30 p.m. Trustees heard public comment for two hours from nearly 70 individuals then went into executive session to seek legal advice regarding recent guidance from Texas Education Agency in light of the current public health crisis.

“Educators are being asked to solve a public health problem.  We have a great responsibility in this moment.  We pledge not only to continue educating ALL of our children, but commit that we will do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of our employees as well as the students and families we all serve,” Dr. Scribner continued. 

Today’s action follows a series of changing directives from local and state authorities. 

“We are adapting to both changing public health conditions and changing guidance from state agencies,” Dr. Scribner said.

The District had originally planned to begin the school year on August 17 and had offered parents the opportunity to choose either virtual or in-person instruction for their students.

However, last week  Tarrant County public health officials ordered that all public and private schools to operate virtually until September 28. 

Then, on Tuesday of this week Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote an opinion that local health officials do not have the authority to stop in-person learning.

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath withdrew his agency’s previous guidance regarding school openings and local health authorities’ directives. The TEA did specify districts could open schools with a transition period of online instruction for four weeks.

As has been the practice for recent meetings, this was a virtual meeting with all Board members being in different remote locations. Here is the agenda.

 

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