Plans unknown for hybrid schooling for the next year


David Doerr

Hybrid teaching- Art teacher Eric Cannon begins his class with a mix of in-person and remote-learners attending on Zoom. He divides his time between both.

Austin ISD officials announced in April that in addition to in-person classes they expected some form of remote instruction to be available to students in a “hybrid learning” format.

However, Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde has recently said that remote learning options are currently “up in the air” because it depends on the Legislature passing bills that allow districts to offer these options “outside of the pandemic,” according to an article on the district’s website published on May 3.

“Initially TEA said you should plan to offer some virtual options,” Elizalde said at a recent public forum. “That’s been reversed, and some legislation is required with very few exceptions … If we did offer (a hybrid option), it’d likely be for a very limited number of students.”

Elizalde said the district is closely following two bills that would allow some form of hybrid or remote learning. She also confirmed that if there is a hybrid option, the district’s goal is to make sure teachers only teach in-person or online, and not both at the same time, a practice called concurrent teaching.

“What teachers told us from the beginning, we should have believed them from the beginning, is that was going to be an impossible delivery method,” she said. “I want to be very clear, we will not be asking our teachers to do concurrent teaching.”

Chief of Schools Anthony Mays said in the article that if students are required to quarantine, then the district will offer some form of remote or virtual learning for those students. “We’re not going to let a student go unserved,” he said.

Principal Tina Salazar said she doesn’t know what to expect in terms of remote or hybrid learning during the next school year.

Right now our district is working with TEA to make those determinations. That is not yet decided,” she said.

Salazar said she didn’t know what would happen with elective course teachers for which in many cases they are the only one who teaches that specific class on each campus.

“We are not there yet, I simply don’t know what the expectations are for next year,” Salazar said.

Salazar said she along with other principals has asked the district about technology resources to help with hybrid learning, but they haven’t received any answers yet.

Orchestra director Thomas Mann said he has concerns about teaching his classes in a remote learning environment next year because the state standards specifically are designed for in-person instruction.

“As a performance-based TEKS, they are designed to be prepared for live performance and then by definition cannot be done online,” he said.

Mann said he advises students who would prefer a remote-learning experience to take music courses that are not performance-based.

“Performance-based TEKS do not function as an online class by definition,” he said. “Students who wish to be in a performance class will need to make arrangements to meet with the class in person or choose a non-performance elective.”