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Struggling grades, low COVID cases at Howe, S&S prompt move to in-person learning

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 11:16 PM CDT
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(KXII) -

Howe and S&S independent school districts are moving from online instruction to in-person classes starting Oct. 19.

Howe ISD says they are choosing to discontinue online instruction because the district has had a low rate of COVID-19, and students participating in online learning have been mostly unsuccessful with coursework.

With a failure rate over 65 percent for remote learners and only 9 percent for on-campus Howe ISD said remote learning proved “inappropriate for the vast amount of students.”

“Class is a lot more quiet,” said Matthew Hayes, a sophomore. “It’s not as fun as it usually is, it’s just a lot more focused and quiet.”

His father, Randy Hayes says online learning for his son was difficult and he feels “totally comfortable” with in person classes returning.

Catrina Portman says online school took a social and emotional toll on her son.

“Him not wanting to go anywhere, his morale was changing and I am very thankful that he’s able to come be with his friends and learn with his teachers,” Portman said.

At S&S almost 10 percent of the students took online classes this year, but those students are failing at a rate four-times higher than their in-person classmates.

“When we started looking at those numbers from the lack of success that we were seeing we realized that kids needed to be here," said S&S Superintendent Roger Reed.

On Sep. 24 the Texas Education Agency said school were not required to offer remote instructions and only face-to-face would be required.

“Online learning is not for everyone and we realized early on that a lot of our kids were having trouble getting checked in and making sure they were up and current and day to day showing engagement,” Reed said.

With a failure rate of 54 percent for remote instruction students, and only 13 percent for face-to-face learners along with only two positive cases since school began Reed said the move in in-person classes would be easier for teachers and students.

“We were running our teachers ragged,” Reed said. “We’re a small school and our teachers were teaching kids face to face where 90 percent of our kids were. But they were also putting in a lot of additional hours to accommodate those remote learners.”

Reed said that the school is “no longer entertaining the option of brining in transfer students for remote instruction."

“Our kids are going to come back face to face unless they choose to do something differently,” Reed said.

Parents at both schools that do not feel comfortable returning to on-campus instruction can withdraw their student and enroll in a home-schooling program or transfer to another school that offers remote learning.

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