Despite an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, state officials will allow school districts to reopen campuses on June 1 for summer school. Even with a green light from the state, however, Palestine and Westwood Independent School Districts will stick with virtual learning this summer – and possibly even this fall.
Meantime, Elkhart ISD won't offer summer classes this year – either in-class or virtual. With the Texas Education Agency waiving STAAR exams and End-of-Course assessments, EISD Superintendent Lamont Smith said the district did not identify a need for summer classes.
Palestine and Westwood's schools are using what they've learned the past few months to offer a better virtual experience this summer, and prep for a possible virtual setting in the fall.
Westwood Superintendent Wade Stanford made an even bolder prediction, stating virtual learning will become a permanent part of the district's curriculum. Using remote learning this spring has forced instructors to find new teaching methods to adapt to different learning styles.
“I don't think we'll ever go back to pre-COVID-19,” Stanford said. “We're seeing this virtual world is the best for some kids. They're flourishing in that. If we go back to what we've always done, our students lose.”
Still, Stanford stressed face-to-face learning will remain an integral part of the district's education delivery.
Westwood will offer a summer bridge program this year, which will expand beyond students who normally use summer classes for credit recovery. WISD's bridge program will target students who need extra academic support, due to the loss of in-school learning, before they move on to the next grade level.
Westwood parents may contact the administration if they think their students needs extra support.
“Our staff has diligently studied how they can improve their [virtual] practice,” Stanford said. “We're constantly trying to refine this to make it easier for students, staff, and parents.”
PISD spokesperson Larissa Loveless said what happens in fall in the Palestine district remains uncertain. “Right now, based on what the governor is saying, we're not going to be able to bring all the students back at the same time,” she said.
Palestine will use Canvas and Seesaw for their online learning platforms this summer. Westwood will continue to use google classrooms.