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Sharyland survey: 70% of parents want their kids to continue learning from home

Results from a preliminary survey from the Sharyland school district found that only 30 percent of Sharyland parents feel comfortable sending their kids back to campus when districts are allowed to reopen later this fall.

The survey results were shared during a Monday school board meeting with Sharyland board trustees. A total of 3,054 families were asked if their children would be sent back to their respective campuses once on campus instruction is permitted.

“As of right now, we have 3,054 families with 70 percent of them wanting to remain at home with remote instruction and 30 percent of them wanting to come back to campus,” Pam Montalvo, district assistant superintendent for curriculum & instruction told board trustees. “We will be asking the families again in two weeks before our official decision to decide to return back to on campus instruction to give us an official decision but right now, we are seeing 70/30.”

The 2020-2021 school year for Sharyland started last week in a virtual capacity due to COVID-19 delaying the start of on campus instruction until after Sunday, Sept. 27, as per an order from Hidalgo County.

The survey results are a stark contrast from an initial May survey that found that 58 percent of parents were comfortable sending their children back to school, with 12 percent of parents saying they wouldn’t send their children back to school.

“It gives us a clear picture for our principals to plan on how many of their students will come back to school,” Montalvo said, adding that the survey would be completed Wednesday and the final results of the survey would be shared after that.

As previously announced, should the district be allowed to reopen, schools will transition from 100 percent virtual learning to The Parent Choice Plan. Under this plan, each family may choose whether their child learns on-campus or remotely for the remainder of the school year. 

The district has been preparing for a return to campus by buying multiple face shields for teachers and staff as well as walkthrough temperature scanners to be placed on the entrance of every district building and campus to monitor the temperature of everyone coming in.

On Monday, the district approved the purchase of 5,000 desk dividers to be placed on the desks of students who are in a classroom. The desk dividers, which put up a clear plastic barrier on each desk similar to a face shield, will be used for elementary school students so each student can have two desk dividers per semester. The district is in discussions to discuss purchasing additional desk dividers for junior high and high school students.

“Kids move from class to class and different kids enter each room…we are trying to figure out how to keep them sanitized,” district Superintendent Dr. Maria M. Vidaurri said. “This will be used post-COVID as well. As we see the flu season and other things come along, we want to be able to provide these things if we get hit hard. We feel like this investment will take us throughout the year.”

The desk dividers, which were purchased for $66,000-or $13.20 per unit-were approved at the 5,000 quantity mark in case around 40 percent of students returned to campus.

According to Montalvo, the district has 9,599 registered students for the current school year.

During attendance that was taken throughout the first week of school last week, 9,479 students were marked as present.

“We have 120 students that were either no show or late enrollees, usually we get up to 400 no shows during the first week of school so this is great,” Montalvo said. “Attendance is tricky right now but we’re proud of this, it’s amazing engagement.”

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