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Howe ISD opts to end remote instruction for students

Joshua Baethge,
The Van Alstyne Leader
Howe ISD will end remote instruction at its campuses, including Howe High School, on Oct. 19 due in large part to underperforming students and low COVID-19 rates in the district.

Howe ISD announced Oct. 2 that it would no longer offer remote instruction effective Oct. 19.

The decision was based largely on the fact that online students were severely underperforming compared to those attending classes in person.

The low rate of positive COVID-19 cases in Howe also made district officials more comfortable with making the decision.

Students in grades 3-12 enrolled in remote instruction for the first six weeks had an average failure rate of more than 65 percent. The failure rate for those attending classes on campus was only 9 percent over the same time period.

Howe ISD Superintendent Kevin Wilson said that students were already behind after losing the last two months of the previous school year, so action had to be taken.

“This just tells us that remote learning is really not appropriate for the age of the kids that are doing it,” he said. “We couldn’t afford to lose another year.”

Approximately 150 of the district’s 1,200 students opted for remote learning this year.

Many of those parents questioned the district’s decision, something Wilson said he completely understands.

“I’m not one of those who doesn’t respect the impact of COVID. We just have to try and make that fit out educational model,” he said. “We just weren’t being successful with the remote instruction.”

Wilson noted that the positivity rate in the district as well as the city and county weighed heavily in the district’s decision.

If any schools or the surrounding area were experiencing high outbreaks, remote instruction would have continued. However, only two Howe ISD students have tested positive for the virus since the start of the school year.

As of Oct. 5, there were only 95 actives cases in Grayson County, none of them in Howe.

The district is still adhering to masks in the buildings as well as other recommended safety precautions. If there is an outbreak requiring schools to shut down, students would again transfer to an all-remote learning environment.

According to Wilson, the experience over the first six weeks this year will help them be better prepared.

Teachers will also be able to better handle the situation since they would only have to teach to one platform. Through the beginning of this year, they have been tasked with teaching both in-person and virtual learners.

Students who have been learning remotely this year may opt to return to in-person learning, home school, or find another school that offers online instruction.

The district has suggested K12 Online Schools and the Texas Education Agency supported TxVSN (Texas Virtual School Network) among the options that families could consider.

Howe ISD Superintendent Kevin Wilson.