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CASSANDRA JENKINS — Many parents consider homeschooling as districts change calendars

Public school districts all across the state of Texas are beginning to plan for the outlook of the 2020-21 school year, and those unhappy with superintendent decisions are considering alternative options.

One of those options includes homeschooling.

As the first district in Mid- and South County to change the school calendar, the community response to Nederland ISD’s vote for a longer school day, came in waves.

While the majority of parents agreed the district chose the best option, others did not.

A recent poll created on Monday in the All Things Nederland community Facebook page revealed 10 people plan on homeschooling their children using NISD-provided tools.

Five said they would be homeschooling students using non-NISD homeschooling programs while 92 are undecided and would wait to see how things look closer to school start time.

Rashell Collins-Bridle said she would not participate in remote learning with a public school curriculum and guidelines.

“There are better more flexible options,” she said. “I also won’t allow my child to be socially distanced from her peers during recess, P.E., lunch, her teacher, etc. Basically, if it’s not business as usual like it was August 2019, then I will choose homeschool. For now, I’m waiting for them to break their silence.”

As another mother, Jamie Hernandez is also entertaining the idea of homeschooling.

“I’m happy people take health and safety first, but I’m not sending my kids to an institution so I’ll decide last minute,” she said. “I’m feeling like homeschooling for now is best due to the insanity this has caused.”

Jacquelyn Godwin Toups brought up the main question parents are asking themselves as they prepare for the school year.

Will school be a safe environment for their children come August?

“It shouldn’t be teachers employment, what would I do with my kids because I work or remote learning didn’t work. It should be, ‘Will my child be completely safe from COVID-19 at school?’” she said. “How many parents would send their children to school if the threat was a visible one? Remote learning didn’t work because NISD, as many school districts, were not prepared for this pandemic.

“Remote learning is possible when districts create virtual classrooms with teachers teaching the students. Does everyone have electronics to participate? No, but those that do would free up space in the school classrooms to give a safer learning environment for students and teachers.”

What about masks? Social distancing? What will a classroom setting look like?

As many districts wait for more information from the Texas Education Agency to answer these questions, the Port Arthur Independent School District has shared some plans.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Porterie shared with a local news outlet his intentions for creating a safe environment for students, including options allowing students to choose between attending classes in-person or virtual remote instruction.

PAISD students and staff returning to school would be required to wear masks on campuses as well as pass a temperature check before being allowed to enter a building.

The state is providing all personal protective equipment to Texas public school districts.

Superintendents across the state met with TEA and Education Commissioner Mike Morath on Tuesday. More information will become available throughout the week.

Cassandra Jenkins is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at cassie.jenkins@panews.com.