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'It is wreaking havoc' | Teachers complain about simultaneously instructing in-person and remote students

Cy-Fair ISD is adding planning days to help teachers manage the challenging situation.

HOUSTON, Texas — Some teachers are sounding the alarm about the current state of education.

"It is wreaking havoc,” said Houston Federation of Teachers president Zeph Capo, who also heads up the state union.

He said he's heard from educators across Harris County and beyond.

"We certainly are having some real, definitive concerns,” said Capo.

Many are overwhelmed by having to simultaneously instruct at-home learners and those who are back in physical classrooms.

"These really are two different, unique ways of delivering instruction," said Capo. "You have to deliver instruction very differently in-person than you do when working with remote students.”

He and other teachers said the dilemma often results in a default that serves neither student group very well.

"Everybody who’s in-person has the laptop in front of them and the teacher’s teaching everybody via the laptop and basically serving as a babysitter for the in-person kids while they teach everybody online,” said Capo.

KHOU requested comments from all of the major Houston-area school districts.

Cy-Fair ISD, the state’s third largest district, said teacher assignments continue to be one of the most significant challenges with no easy solution and that assigning teachers to purely online or face-to-face instruction would require unfeasible staffing changes every grading period.

“CFISD teachers are committed to providing quality instruction for their students and are working harder than ever to teach students both in-person and remotely," CFISD said in a statement.  "Therefore, CFISD has recently designated seven days throughout the school year to provide additional planning time for teachers.”

Capo said, in some cases, students learning from home can do their work independently while freeing up time for in-person instruction.

But challenges will continue as long as COVID does.

"That’s the reality of what’s happening,” said Capo.

Cy-Fair ISD's full statement:

We agree that teacher assignments continue to be one of the most significant challenges with no easy solution. The assignment of teachers to CFISD Connect, face-to-face, or merged is a campus-based decision, and there are many factors principals must consider, including but not limited to:

  • High school is extremely complex, with a multitude of course offerings, singleton courses, and levels.
  • Student selections change each marking period; assigning teachers to purely CFISD Connect or face-to-face would require changes to the teacher of record each marking period
  • Number of students selecting on-campus or CFISD Connect
  • Maintaining adequate social distancing in each classroom

In addition, we continue to evaluate our Lead Safely Plan to identify areas needing modification and adjustment. We feel it is essential to continue to provide parents with the choice of on-campus or remote (CFISD Connect) learning for their children at the end of each grading period. This choice for parents, however, does not come without challenges for our campuses. We have determined that one area in need of immediate attention is additional planning and preparation time for our classroom teachers. CFISD teachers are committed to providing quality instruction for their students and are working harder than ever to teach students both in-person and remotely. Therefore, CFISD has recently designated seven days throughout the school year to provide additional planning time for teachers. The first day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.