JEFFERSON — Jefferson ISD trustees on Tuesday unanimously voted to end remote learning and return to face to face instruction across the district, except for those students sent home for quarantine after contracting or being exposed to COVID-19, or those who have other special qualifying conditions.
The move will mean that the about 30 percent, or 300 of the district’s current remote learners will begin transitioning back to the classroom soon, Jefferson ISD Superintendent Rob Barnwell said Tuesday.
Administrators will now begin working on a timeline for the transition to return to face to face instruction.
When presenting the need to return to face to face instruction for all students, Barnwell pointed out to the trustees that other neighboring districts, of varying sizes, have also recently made the same decision, including New Diana ISD, Gilmer ISD, Hallsville ISD and Tyler ISD.
“The fact is, remote learning is not very successful,” Barnwell said during the Tuesday meeting, televised live on Facebook via the Marion County Herald/Jefferson Jimplecute. “We’re not the only school in that boat. Many schools are going back to the 100 percent face to face model.”
Barnwell said while there are pros and cons to offering remote learning, the disadvantages have outweighed the advantages in the past eight weeks since school started.
“We (the administration) sat down to discuss this last week,” Barnwell said. “There has been a lot of brainstorming that has gone into this and there’s not a single administrator that will disagree that face to face on campus learning is the best scenario for our kids.”
Barnwell then referred to the district’s campus principals who were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting who then told trustees the remote learning is hard on both students and teachers because students don’t receive the one on one help and personal instruction they need and teachers are working double time to teach face to face students in their classrooms, then film videos of lessons for their online students.
“There’s so many little things that get missed,” Barnwell said. “When I was talking to Mr. (Rob) Key (New Diana ISD Superintendent) to share data, he said there are about 10 percent of their students that are remote learning and he believes about 30 of them might decide not come back at all. Right now, we’re at about 30 percent of ours that are remote learning. He said, ‘Oh, you’re talking about maybe 300 students.’ I told him that is a big concern of ours, in regards to funding, if a large percentage of those decide not to come back, however, that doesn’t change the fact that there’s not a single administrator that doesn’t believe that face to face on campus instruction is better.”
Barnwell said failure rates have risen, as well as participation among remote learners as far as students consistently logging on to the computer at the designated times for class instruction each day and even for those students that do consistently log on, their comprehension of the material is not as great as it was during face to face instruction when they were allowed to ask immediate questions and interact with their teacher.
As required by the Texas Education Agency, remote learning will remain available to those students sent home for quarantine or illness, as well as those students who qualify as special needs or special conditions per guidelines.
Barnwell said several students at each campus were already planning to return to face to face instruction at the upcoming end of of the first nine weeks.
“We think a majority of these will come back,” Barnwell said.
A full video of the meeting can be viewed on the Marion County Herald/Jefferson Jimplecute Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MarionCountyHerald