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North Texas School District Leaders React To Texas Education Agency Back-To-School Guidelines

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - This year is a 'back to school' like we've never seen before.

"It's going to be difficult and different," said Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa. He told CBS 11 News the final plan is coming into clearer focus, Besides personal protective equipment, the district has plans for short shutdowns to disinfect should a child get sick. As for how many families will opt for in-person learning, it's still up in the air.

"Early on we only had about 20-percent of the parents say they were going to stay at home," he said. "Now that's over 50-percent and it keeps growing with the spike in numbers."

With cases climbing in Dallas County, Dr. Hinojosa said they're also not ruling out a delayed start to the school year. "It's something that's been brought up and it's something we have to take a look at," he said.

The Dallas Independent School District is one of several districts already planning for flexible options, in line with new guidance from the Texas Education Agency. Fort Worth, doing the same. They released the following statement:

"The guidance we received today from the Texas Education Agency is right in line with the plans we have been making for the 2020-2021 school. In addition to PPE (personal protective equipment) available for staff and students and day-long cleaning activities to keep down the potential exposure to any virus, we are also offering parents the choice of in-person or virtual instruction. The health and safety of our students and employees remain a top priority."

"The value of trying to open back up our schools can't be understated," said Dr. Nicholas Rister, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Cook Children's Hospital. He said there's really no "one-size-fits-all" answer for going back to school.

"Every child is different," Rister said. "You have to look at who your child is, and the benefits they derive and the risk factors."

Parents of DISD students have up until two weeks before the start of school to make the call, but Dr. Hinojosa said they'll work with families even after classes start.

"We're never going back to the normal thing we used to have," he said. "So we all have to tolerate each other as we figure these things out."

Hinojosa says the district should have their plans finalized and out to parents within the next two weeks.

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