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Longview ISD superintendent explains decision to return remote students to campus

With six weeks left in the school year, Longview ISD virtual learners returned back to the classroom.

LONGVIEW, Texas — As the 2020-2021 school year draws to a close, Longview ISD returned remote learners back to its classrooms Monday.

The district had nearly 1,000 students who were taking classes online, which is about 12% of enrollment. James Wilcox the superintendent says the decision to have students back on campus was to help with their education.

"The virtual learning, it just does not take the place of face-to-face instruction with a teacher in the classroom," Wilcox said. "There's a number of national studies showing that and we understand that our students are behind, that all students are behind, and we want to try to accelerate their recovery."

However, before requiring students to come back, LISD required them to have passing grades in order to stay remote. 

"The vast majority of those students are now passing their courses," Wilcox said. "So you know, that is anecdotal. But we feel like that it definitely shows the importance of a face to face instruction.”

Wilcox says while there may only be six weeks left in the school year, they also want to prepare students for next year.

"We want to get started on this as much as we can, we anticipate next school year, that we will start off with a face-to-face instruction in August," he explained. "But you know, we will have a virtual option next year also, that's something that the district is planning on."

Not all students will be returning to the classroom, Wilcox says the district understands there are some who will need to stay home because of COVID-19. Principals will be evaluating remote requests on a case by case basis.

The superintendent says COVID-19 cases have been down for the school following spring break, which began the conversation to have students come back to the campuses.

"We had zero adult employees of the district with a positive COVID test, we had zero students with a positive COVID test," he said. "So we understand that we're not out of the woods. But it began a conversation with you know our principals who want students in the seat in front of a teacher, face-to-face instruction."

Wilcox says LISD leadership has a meeting once a week to check in on the district's COVID-19 response and student's best interest, which they will continue to do for the rest of the school year.

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