FRISCO, Texas — Educators, especially administrators, know very well there really is no off-season in the world of education. It is the end of one school year, but only the beginning of planning for the next one.
Districts have big decisions to make for the fall semester as it relates to masks, virtual learning and social distancing.
Frisco ISD has grand plans for one permanent virtual school, pending state legislature approval. Wes Cunningham, the district's chief academic officer, says they gathered a lot of information about virtual schooling in the last year. Cunningham says the benefits of virtual learning for a number of the district's students simply couldn't be ignored.
"It will be in one sense its own school. We're building these courses with Frisco ISD teachers using Frisco ISD-teacher-written curriculum," said Cunningham.
The district told WFAA the interest from students is in the hundreds. Meanwhile, Frisco ISD also just announced masks will not be required after June 1.
Many districts are being bombarded with questions from parents about the fall semester.
"We are trying very hard not to be weary," said Spencer Siino, who has four children in Highland Park ISD. He'd like to hear his district is not mandating masks for the upcoming semester, and he says he's certainly not alone in feeling that way.
Sinno, along with half a dozen other parents, has filed legal challenges with several school districts through the Norred Law firm based out of Arlington. For Sinno, the question comes down to what information the district used to base its decision on mandating masks.
"In the legal world we call it hearsay upon hearsay upon hearsay," said attorney Warren Norred. "Show us why you think it's appropriate. Why is it developmentally appropriate to put a mask on a 7-year-old?" asked Norred.
WFAA reached out to a number of large districts on several basic questions being asked by parents for the fall semester. Fort Worth ISD told WFAA it is in discussion over their mask policy. It is also in discussion about in-person learning and virtual learning.
Dallas ISD told WFAA it is also in discussion over masks. A spokesperson says the district hopes to fully return to in-person learning with one hybrid school in the works.
Plano ISD has announced that it is making masks optional, with mostly in-person learning and a virtual school in development.
"To get this far into the pandemic, over 14 months, and to not change anything...it doesn't inspire any confidence [with districts]," Siino said.
Parents are eager to know what the future looks like for their children's education, and administrators are eager to give options early enough. Because, before you know it, the fall semester will be right around the corner.