Students head back to school early, despite COVID-19 fears

DALLAS (1080 KRLD)-More than 2,500 Dallas ISD students are heading back to school this morning, a couple of weeks before everyone else.

Holland Elementary is one of five schools in the district opening today on the new School Day Redesign calendar. Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa was at the school this morning, he says the new calendar is going to help students who have fallen behind.

“These five schools that are opening today are pioneers in trying to make a big difference in getting caught up on our learning loss,” Hinojosa says. “They have completely redesigned their calendar. They’ll have the same amount of curriculum they need to cover, but they have a lot more time.”

The School Day Redesign Calendar extends the school year from Aug. 2 - June 23.
But some parents say, with COVID-19 cases on the rise and the Delta Variant wreaking havoc in North Texas, they’re feeling concerned.

“We’re nervous,” says Mario Flores, who has two kids enrolled in Holland. “We wish there were other options— we wish there was an option for us to have virtual school. We’re just concerned.”

“We wish masks were mandatory,” another parent said. “But what can you do? Kids need to come to school, so here we are.”

“I’m a little nervous, but I feel okay about it because we didn’t do virtual school last year,” says Rebecca Thompson, who was at Holland Elementary early this morning to drop off her son. “We’re already accustomed to this.”

Even though the school can’t enforce masks, Holland Principal Shanieka Christmas-McDonald says she’s trying to lead by example.

“I’m highly recommending that everyone does it,” Christmas-McDonald says. “We’re prepared to give the students masks.”

School Day Redesign is one of three calendars the DISD is implementing. More than 40 schools have opted to use the Intersession calendar, which puts students back at school starting on Aug. 9. Both calendars will keep students in school until June 23.

The remaining schools in the district are still on a traditional calendar, or base calendar, in which the school year starts Aug. 16 and ends May 27.

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