Marshall ISD Superintendent Jerry Gibson

About 20 to 25 percent of East Texas students from area school districts have said in online surveys this summer they plan to attend school remotely through online learning rather than with in person classes this month, but one area district superintendent is warning both parents and students that online schooling this fall will not resemble the online schooling they saw in the spring.

Marshall ISD Superintendent Jerry Gibson recently posted an informational video to explain the hurriedly put together online worksheets and check-ins from the spring COVID-19 shutdown of schools will not in any way resemble the virtual schooling online students can expect to see this fall.

“In the spring, we were all figuring it out as we went, all schools were and everybody got a pass,” Gibson said. “No one was going to fail because I didn’t feel that would be fair to our students, but it’s all different now.”

Gibson said for third- through twelfth-grade students who choose remote or online schooling this school year, the school will be held in real time, just as if they were going to in person classes at the brick and mortar school.

“The student will get a schedule, just like if they were taking face-to-face learning, and they will have to be logged on at the time of that class and a teacher will come on the screen, kind of like in a Zoom meeting style in real time and the teacher will take attendance. The teacher will give real time instruction, just like if the student were sitting in front of them in the classroom. They will teach for about 45 minutes and then there will be an assignment for the student to do and turn in online,” he said.

Gibson said truancy reporting will be enforced for online students who do not meet attendance requirements.

Gibson said in online surveys this summer, about 28 percent of Marshall High School students have said they plan to take school through remote, online learning this fall. District-wide, Gibson said about 30 percent of students have indicated they will request virtual school.

“We’re not trying to make it difficult for anyone, but this is education and it needs to be challenging,” Gibson said. “Students need to be learning with rigor.”

Students and parents who choose online learning must provide their student’s required technology, such as a home computer and Internet access — though Marshall ISD will have some hotspot devices available for those who do not have Internet access at home, Gibson said.

Gibson said in order to keep consistency, students who choose online learning will not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities, which includes attendance to district sporting events and contests.

“If a parent says, ‘I want my student learning virtually because I feel it’s the safest environment,’ then we will honor their decision but we need to stay consistent and that student shouldn’t be on campus for extracurricular activities, in the locker rooms or up at the volleyball net with other students.”

Marshall ISD students will return to school on Aug. 13.