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PODCAST: Why online classes this fall should be much improved - helping kids AND parents

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Northside Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods and Randy talk about the variety of challenges staff, parents and students will face. (SBG Photo)

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SAN ANTONIO - In this week’s episode of ‘San Antonio’s Voice,’ the leader of the largest school district in San Antonio sits down with Randy Beamer for a detailed, information-filled talk about this upcoming school year in the face of the coronavirus.

Northside Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods and Randy talk about the variety of challenges staff, parents and students will face.

In the spring we had some situations where students didn't have a lot of "synchronous learning" - they didn't have a conversation like the one you and I are having right now.
They logged into the system and were able to do work. But they didn't get a lot of direct instruction perhaps. That's going to change.
Synchronous instruction will be mandatory for all elementary age students and highly encouraged for secondary students all through distance learning.

Woods says not all classes can be done completely online. He mentioned welding, for example.

We've said some courses will require at least some in building learning. They just will, I can't learn how to weld out of a book, right? That's that's just not reasonable. I can't I can't do that.
There are just lots of courses, think about athletics, think about Fine Arts, that require in building learning. And so we're going to say to folks, we want you to have this course. But if you want it - you don't have to be here every day - but you're going to have to be here some days. You have to practice in the presence of an expert in order to get better.

But Dr. Woods also says the online classes this fall will be very different than those in the spring. He says they basically had a few days to put together the online experience last spring, but now with months to plan, the classes should be better for kids AND parents. And many may feel better about being able to go back to work.

One of our key goals has been that parents would not need to play as large a role in the fall as they did in the spring. This will we will be back to teacher-led instruction, period.
If parents feel like their child is in a safe place, and that they have access to what they need, absolutely. The day will be teacher-led, it will be teacher-instructed. We're not going to ask parents to teach their kids how to write and to read and to do mathematics. So absolutely this will be teacher-led.

Dr. Woods reveals that Northside ISD has 40,000 new devices on the way to make sure all the students are able to work remotely. And he reveals the district will be using bus drivers and transportation workers in other roles while students are learning remotely.

That group of employees for the most part in the week before school starts and in at least the first two weeks of the school year is going to lead the effort to reconnect families, to our schools, door to door if that's what's necessary.
Bus drivers, bus drivers, bus assistance, transportation employees, because we know we'll be all virtual those first two weeks , that group of employees is going to be with our principals, of course, leading that re-engagement effort. Hey, not doing school is not a choice. You've got to be in school, right? You can you have these two options. You can be in person or you can be virtual, but you got to pick one.

Woods began his career at Northside in 1992 and became superintendent in July 2012. In September 2018, the Texas Association of School Boards named Woods the best superintendent in Texas. There are more than 100,000 students enrolled at NISD.

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