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Superintendent says Nederland School Board may have to consider ending online learning option

NEDERLAND — Nederland Independent School District leaders may soon be discussing an end to the district’s online learning module.

Families within the school district — which serves approximately 5,000 students — were given the option at the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year to enroll students for in-classroom instruction or online through a remote format.

Superintendent Dr. Stuart Kieschnick told school board members this week that some Texas districts with similar hybrid models are making plans to go to face-to-face instruction only and do away with remote learning.

“We may come to a time where we start that discussion,” Kieschnick said. “We’re not there yet, I don’t think, but there may be a time where this board needs to have a discussion of what education looks like going forward in Nederland ISD. That may not be too far off.”

Kieschnick cited the District’s active count of COVID-19 cases as the reason to consider an in-person only learning environment.

He said those numbers are dropping, acknowledging the count was 3 on Monday and only expected to rise slightly throughout the week.

Nederland High School has the most online learners in a per-campus basis for the District and the largest percentage when compared to the total school enrollment. As of Friday, 390 (27 percent) of the school’s 1,459 students were enrolled online.

The district school with the least amount of online-only students is Langham Elementary with 45 students studying online, representing 11 percent of the school enrollment.

Helena Park Elementary is tied with Langham Elementary for lowest percentage of students choosing the virtual option.

Overall, 1,047 students (21 percent) within Nederland Independent School District are participating in online-only instruction.

PNGISD

When the 2020-21 academic year began, the Port Neches-Groves Independent School District opened with only in-person instruction.

Two months later, Assistant Superintendent Julie Gauthier said there is “no doubt,” school district officials made the right decision.

She said the district leaders base their decisions on what is best for students.

“There was no way to quickly provide the quality and standard of instruction of success for PNGISD (online) in that short of notice with the format and things going on,” Gauthier said. “We knew we could have safety procedures in place to run it successfully and correctly. We have phenomenal staff members that make it look a lot easier than what it is. We knew that is was definitely possible and the best way to educate our kids.”

PNG leaders stayed away from an online model for fear that the increased loss of classroom time would negatively impact student education.

Gauthier said PNGISD leaders told parents they were providing in-person instruction safely and with years of know-how.

Those with concerns were asked to speak with school administrators about specific issues. A limited homebound option is offered on a case-by-case basis.

“We’ve worked through that with parents that have true health concerns or health issues and have been able to help them through that,” Gauthier said. “We are still concerned about the education those kids are getting. We still believe in-person is our place to be, even for students on our homebound program. We hope to see them transition back to the classroom as quickly as possible.”