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North Texas school districts begin online learning experiment

Dallas ISD will begin at-home learning for more than 155,000 students.

DALLAS — As families went back to school Monday, they didn’t get out of their cars or enter the building.

The line of cars outside Medrano Middle School near Love Field stretched well beyond the parking lot as parents and their kids waited for curbside meal pickup.

Dallas ISD is providing three days of food for every student, on Mondays and Thursdays, for at least the next two weeks at 48 locations around the district.

Josue Rubalcava didn’t pick any food, but the Thomas Jefferson High School senior stopped by to take home one of the laptops the district is handing out to every middle and high school student.

“It’s been chaotic, it’s hard to describe in words actually,” Rubalcava said. “I really didn’t have a lot of classes that I needed to finish but I would still like to be at school instead of my home.”

Many North Texas districts are starting the online experiment for at-home learning Monday and for families without home internet it is yet another challenge.

Dallas ISD estimated as many as 40-percent of students lacked home internet during a board briefing on March 12.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, while practicing social distancing during a Facebook live, added Monday the amount is actually lower but that the district still needs a long term strategy to get every student online.

“That’s going to take us a little while to deploy hotspots to students,” Hinojosa said.

Dallas ISD, the second largest in the state, created an online portal for parents to review academic material for every grade level.

Hinojosa acknowledged the online learning is a situation the district was forced into by community spread of COVID-19 in Dallas County, but that DISD will make the best of the situation.

“This journey is going to teach us some lessons,” Hinojosa said.

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