FORT WORTH, Texas — Fort Worth ISD’s decision to open schools for in-person learning Friday sparked backlash on social media.
“Do you care about the safety of your employees,” one person tweeted. “The roads are still in poor condition. Every other major district is closed. Seeing the tragedy yesterday in our city, one would think some precaution would be taken.”
The district's Facebook post announcing the decision drew hundreds of similar comments.
During Thursday’s icy conditions, a pileup crash on I-35W just north of downtown Fort Worth involving more than 100 cars left six people dead and dozens in the hospital.
The district said it made the decision to open schools the next day after conferring with weather experts, and determined while Friday would be cold, road conditions were not nearly as bad as they were Thursday. Parents could also opt to keep their kids home for virtual learning on Friday, according to a district spokesperson.
Friday morning the district tweeted at 6:24 a.m. that buses were running very late and some could be significantly delayed. The district warned parents to keep students inside and warm until buses arrived.
“This is not okay,” read a comment under the tweet. “Go virtual like we did yesterday!!!”
The decision to close schools Thursday and switch all classes to virtual learning also raised concerns.
“I was a little surprised by that,” said Emily Youree, a mother of two Fort Worth ISD students who attend in-person classes. “It was also so last minute.”
As WFAA reported Jan. 8, a Fort Worth ISD spokesperson said at the time, “if needed we will implement snow days as we traditionally have done. There would not be any virtual learning.”
But with icy conditions Thursday, the district announced schools would be closed but virtual learning would be mandatory, citing recent changes to TEA guidelines as the reason behind the switch.
Youree said there wasn’t enough warning for parents of in-person learners.
“All of their school supplies, their chromebooks, their worksheets, everything’s in their classroom” Youree said. “None of that was sent home.”
With more winter weather in the forecast Youree said she’d like to see a specific plan as early as possible.
Friday afternoon, the district issued the following plan for the coming week.
Monday, Feb. 15
All students are off for President’s Day.
All flex professional learning offerings scheduled for Monday will be conducted virtually. The district encouraged teachers who need to earn flex credit hours to participate safely from home.
Students attending Marine Creek ECHS, TCC-South ECHS, and TABS will engage in synchronous, virtual instruction, the district said.
Exempt employees scheduled to work on Monday will work remotely.
Non-exempt (hourly) employees scheduled to work will not report to work either physically or remotely.
Tuesday, Feb. 16 to Thursday, Feb. 18
The district said it would continue to monitor weather for in-person instruction decisions. If weather prevents students and teachers from getting to school safely, students and teachers will engage in remote synchronous instruction during regular school hours, school officials said.
Supervisors will update exempt and non-exempt employees regarding their work schedule.
Substitute employees will receive instructions from the District’s Substitute Office.
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