TEA releases guidelines allowing districts to make students not succeeding in virtual learning return to in-person instruction

by Chloe Jordan | staff writer

The Texas Education Agency has created new guidelines to allow districts to make students who are failing classes or have too many absences to stop virtual learning and come back to school in-person.

“So, this last week on Monday, the Texas Education Agency passed new guidelines for students that are falling behind, based on too many absences, which TEA said three or more, and failing any class at that moment, that schools can require them to come back because the virtual learning is not working,” principal Gary Comalander said.

For now, NEISD is still willing to work with students who have absences.

“As a district, you are able to work on those guidelines to what you feel is best for your school district. So, Northeast and high school is continuing to work with our attendance through our saturday schools and our tutoring,” Comalander said. “And if so we have a student that is taking care of their absences that way, and they’re passing, then we’re not requiring them to return at this moment because of absences. If they fall behind and are not getting their absences corrected, then later on we could ask them to return.”

But, the campus will turn their attention to students who are failing two or more classes.

“For grades, we are working on two failures, at this time, or more. And, so, letters will go out today. If someone is failing two or more classes, you have a two week window to fix it,” Comalander said. “It gives everybody ten school days to fix it, get those grades back up to where they need t be, and if at that point, you’re still not passing two or more, then we would say you need to return, because the virtual learning experience is not working.”

The guidelines won’t change too much, except encourage students to make up absences and fix classes they’re failing.

“Hopefully, the students that are working virtually will get online live. The biggest issue we see is trying to work asynchronously. While it’s working for some students, some students are doing a great job of getting on it, eight o’ clock at night, getting their work done, checking in correctly with their attendance and getting caught up,” Comalander said. “But, for quite a few students it’s not working, and so they need to be virtually live, so they can hear the lesson from the teacher live, and if that doesn’t work over the next two weeks, then they need to come in-person to get back to learning the old fashion way.”

Letters will go out today and students who are failing must be passing by December 4, so they can continue to be virtual.

“Either they’re going to get their grades back to passing while they’re working virtually, and if that’s the best way for the student, by all means. But, what we need is everybody getting a good learning experience,” Comalander said. “If you fail two or more courses, then there’s a good opportunity that you will not be moving up to the next grade level. At that point, now, you’re looking at not being able to possibly graduate on time, and that’s the reason behind it. So, we don’t want students to miss out on the learning experience and getting the education that they need to get, and if the safest thing is at home, that’s fine, but you have to be online virtually and learning.”

In-person learning may be more beneficial for students struggling with virtual learning.

“We want everybody to do what’s best for them, but we also want everybody learning and continuing their education through this time and not falling behind,” Comalander said.

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