Dallas ISD considers changes to school calendar

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The Dallas ISD school board could vote in January on changing the calendar for the school year. Officials say they're concerned about a decline in student achievement related to COVID-19.

DISD ended the 2019-2020 school year with all online instruction after students were sent home to limit the spread of COVID-19. The district started the year with on-line learning before allowing some students back into the classroom. Students normally forget some information over the summer, and officials with DISD say there are signs that they're not recovering as quickly with on-line instruction.

"This on-line learning, everybody's making the effort, but the results are not quite there, and that's what's really worrisome at this point," said DISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa. "The early warning signs are not good, and we're not the only ones. In my conversations with the Texas School Alliance, which are all the urban and suburban districts...and the Dallas County schools," he said, "everybody is seeing a significant slide - the COVID slide, from March to September. It's significant."

A state law known as House Bill 3 allows school districts to modify their traditional calendars. Options include boosting the district's class offerings over the summer, shifting starting and ending dates for the school year, or adding up to 30 more instruction days to the school year.

"I appreciate the effort to mitigate the COVID loss combined with the summer loss," DISD Board Member Dan Micciche said.

At this point, the three options are still in the early draft stages. Dallas ISD officials will hold focus groups with school leaders later this month. Those will be followed by "town hall" style meetings for the public in December. The board is scheduled to vote in January on whether to adopt one of the new proposed calendars or to stay with the current calendar.