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Fort Worth ISD to consider changing start date for school year

The district planned to start online learning Aug. 17 but a possible change in funding for virtual learning triggers emergency meeting on Thursday

FORT WORTH, Texas — The Fort Worth ISD school board will decide whether to change the 2020-21 calendar during an emergency meeting Thursday morning.

The second-largest school district in North Texas posted the agenda Wednesday afternoon which includes "possible action regarding" the upcoming school year calendar.

Right now, the school calendar begins Aug. 17 with virtual learning only. In-person learning is restricted until Sept. 28 due to a Tarrant County public health order.

The emergency meeting was called after the Texas Education Agency reversed its guidance on Tuesday and told districts that remote learning would not be funded if the online learning is required by a county health order.

RELATED: Families in limbo after Texas AG, education agency reverse guidance for schools

The TEA has allowed school districts to begin online learning for four weeks with no effect on school funding and an additional four weeks if a district requests a waiver.

Dallas ISD last week moved its calendar from Aug. 17 to start school to Sept. 8 for both online and virtual coursework.  

Under that calendar, the district could request an additional four weeks for remote learning on Oct. 5 which would allow the district to remain online with no threat of losing state funding through Nov. 3.

Chip Stewart has two students who attend Fort Worth schools and says he supported the county health order preventing in-person learning until Sept. 28.

"We were so relieved that a decision had been made and thought it was the right one," Stewart said.

That seeming certainty disappeared Tuesday when the TEA made the guidance change hours after a non-binding opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The school district on Wednesday declined to reveal what start date Superintendent Kent Scribner may present to the school board during the emergency meeting Thursday morning. 

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.