Superintendent Michael Hinojosa of the Dallas Independent School District has stated he will not close the district’s schools out of concern for the quality of education children receive through virtual learning.
“The district will not shut down over the surge of COVID-19 cases,” he said in an interview with NBC DFW. Hinojosa hopes to be able to prioritize both safety and education to serve the best interests of the children regarding their health and their learning environment. He plans on doing everything he can to keep from resorting to virtual learning to support children and their families.
Dallas County is now in Code Red and Dallas’ school district, the second largest in Texas, is comprised of six and a half million people.
After a rise in COVID-19 cases just as winter break came to an end, Hinojosa elected to extend the mask rule in the district. Aware of possible concerns about his decision to continue requiring masks and do whatever it takes to keep children in the school setting, he assured parents their children will continue to receive the education they deserve and that he is following safety protocols.
The mask rule will stay in effect until spring break and Dallas ISD announced that a certified nurse will be stationed at every campus within the district. The nurses are able to provide testing as the district has “made testing a high priority,” NBC DFW reported. “I think we have enough safety measures to make it a productive environment and better learning environment by being in person,” Hinojosa shared.
“Based upon the data review and consultation with the health professionals, we decided that was in the best interest of the district,” Hinojosa said regarding extending the mask requirement. “As much as I want to lift that, the conditions do not allow,” he added.
In regards to Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order banning school districts from requiring masks, the Superintendent commented, “I’m not upset with the governor… he’s got a big, complex state to run, but I’ve got a big complex school district to run,” WFAA reported.
In the past two years, only two campuses have closed down due to the shortage of staff in regards to the virus, each for four days. “If a campus is overflowing with staff members who can’t perform, then we’ll shut that campus down… we will not shut the district down,” Hinojosa said.
He calls the teachers of Dallas ISD “warriors” and has offered a $3,500 “retention incentive” for the 2022-2023 school year in the hopes of keeping his most talented teachers among the members of his staff.
Though Dallas ISD schools remain open, nine-hundred parents have chosen the virtual learning alternative. According to Hinojosa, around four percent of students “learn well virtually,” if they have two parents to help at home.
Hinojosa emphasized that virtual learning will be the “last, last, last, last, last, resort” for Dallas ISD.