Dallas ISD teachers ask for return to virtual learning

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Dallas ISD teachers attending Thursday night's school board meeting were calling on the district to return to virtual learning only. Currently, Dallas ISD lets parents choose between in-person and online classes.

The Texas Education Agency has given districts the ability to shift to online classes for two weeks because of staff shortages.

"In the district, we are seeing the numbers go up," George Rangel, with the Alliance AFT teachers' union, said at Thursday night's meeting. "We are certainly not working in normal conditions."

Through Thursday, Dallas ISD had reported a total of 1,161 cases of COVID-19: 567 among students, 475 among campus staff and 119 among central staff. This month, 499 cases have been reported.

"Teachers in this district are going to work in fear each day," said Christine Elliott, a high school teacher. "It's exhausting and unsustainable."

Teachers said Dallas ISD should move to virtual learning only after Thanksgiving. A move to virtual classes was not on Thursday's agenda.

At Thursday's meeting, the school board did discuss efforts to improve internet access and constructing a private network to serve high schools identified as having the greatest need for student connectivity: Lincoln, Pinkston, Roosevelt, South Oak Cliff and Spruce.

The board also discussed changing goals for student outcomes.

"The 2019-20 COVID-19 pause and its associated COVID slide necessitated that the 2020-21 targets be adjusted," the district listed on the agenda.

Across Texas, 6,343 additional cases of COVID-19 were reported among students and 3,307 were reported among teachers in the week ending November 15. A total of 31,678 students and 18,742 staff members have tested positive since the beginning of August, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.