School board

Amanda Caffey, a math teacher at MSI, speaks to the Taylor ISD board of trustees about the challenges of the hybrid system for virtual and in-person instruction.

The Taylor ISD board of trustees heard from teachers about how to move forward in the midst of COVID-19.

The district was tasked with providing a plan for virtual and in-person instruction.

According to the agenda for Monday, Oct. 19's meeting, the board was to consider possible action to discontinue remote instruction or designate remote and in-person teachers.

"We have not perfected this as of yet, nor have a lot of places," Dr. George Willey, chief academic officer, said about the hybrid learning system. "I think the problems that exist with remote learning are going to continue regardless of how we deliver that."

During public comments, teachers from the district spoke directly to the board about the challenges of instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each teacher talked about how difficult it can be to teach in-person and then create virtual instruction videos for students.

"I'm speaking for those remote students that cannot speak for themselves and are drowning in school work that they don't even understand," said Jessica Pierce, fifth grade reading teacher. "I'm speaking for the single parent and grandparent that feels inadequate or overwhelmed at the challenges that hybrid teaching brings to their home."

She said there are other educators that break down in the lounge or have panic attacks in the classrooms because of the impossible nature of hybrid teaching.

"I feel as though I cannot build relationships with my remote students, and their education is suffering because of that," she said. "If I can build relationships with them and gain their trust to make them feel safe, how are they going to be expected to learn?"

She said students are having a hard time learning remotely, and there are students who are not logging in to finish their lessons.

Pierce said if there is not an option to return fully to in-person instruction, the district should allow virtual only teachers at the campuses.

Madison Knox, third grade teacher, agreed that the current hybrid model is not the best choice for instruction.

"I feel the current in-person and virtual model being implemented by Taylor ISD is failing our students and our teachers," she said.

Knox said teachers at Naomi Pasemann Elementary, as well other campuses, are preparing in-person and virtual materials for every subject everyday.

"We cannot sustain the current workload, and our students cannot learn when their teachers are unable to give them 100% of our time and effort," she said.

The solution suggested was a virtual teacher.

"A virtual teacher at each grade level would allow live instruction, effective small groups and intentional digital assignments that reflect formative assessments," Knox said. "This is what our virtual students need and deserve from us."

Superintendent Keith Brown explained that the elementary schools have the flexibility to designate virtual teachers. He said beginning Monday, Oct. 26, there will be virtual only teachers at the elementary levels determined by the campus principals.

At the secondary level, middle and high school, the current hybrid model will stay in place.

"Our plan currently, unless we have a relapse of the pandemic where we close, we would complete the entire school year in this instructional model," Brown said.

The district is expected to hold parents more accountable for their students when they choose virtual instruction.

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