Mineral Wells ISD Superintendent John Kuhn announced Friday that on-campus learning will be required for unengaged students and those failing multiple remote courses.
“As we begin the second six weeks of the school year, we want to say thanks for all you have done to make our return to in-person learning a success. Unfortunately, many remote learning students have not been successful at all,” according to a published statement from Kuhn. “A shocking number of them are failing multiple courses. Several have never logged in or communicated at all in six weeks. These students are falling desperately behind and if we do not act quickly, they may never recover.”
Kuhn said starting Oct. 19, all remote students who are failing multiple courses or are unengaged will be required to return to their campuses for in-person instruction.
“This gives them time to make better decisions and begin participating appropriately. If we wait, many will find themselves in a hole they cannot get out of by failing two entire six weeks,” according to the statement. “Parents are encouraged to bring students back sooner if it is clear their student is not succeeding. Students who change back to in-person learning prior to the three weeks mark will schedule a return date through the campus.
"After reviewing academic outcomes, we believe this decision is clearly in the best interest of students. Teachers and staff at Mineral Wells ISD have worked diligently to ensure that our students have all the tools necessary to succeed in their learning, whether remote or face-to-face.”
Kuhn said he doesn’t have a number as to the amount of students considered failing or unengaged, but is hopeful that it will improve by Oct. 19.
“Learning is vitally important for every child’s future,” Kuhn said. “If a child is not completing work and not engaging in classes, MWISD feels a deep responsibility to intervene in the best interest of our students.”
The district issued Chromebooks to every student in grades seventh through 12th. MWISD also has 90 hotspots, including several on-hand that have not been checked out, Kuhn said. There are several additional Chromebooks at the elementary campuses as well.
“Additionally, free wifi is available in all of our parking lots along with many businesses in town. We have a technology department that addresses technical concerns and we have traded out many devices that stopped working — most elementary remote students do their work using paper packets,” Kuhn said. “The simple truth is this: If a student is falling badly behind due to technical issues, they are still falling badly behind. This will harm them educationally and can have long-term detrimental effects on their future opportunities. Blaming un-engagement or zeroes on technology doesn’t alter the deleterious effects of learning loss. Keep in mind that everyone has had over six weeks to get any technology glitches addressed, if that is what has caused their lack of success.”
Kuhn said students who have been successful will be allowed to continue remote learning.
“We understand that student health remains a concern for many parents,” according to the statement. “We will continue to follow proper health protocols to provide a safe learning space for face-to-face students. While we believe that returning to in-person learning is in the best interest of failing remote students, we understand if you decide otherwise.”
At-home learning is not a good fit for every student, Kuhn said.
“For example, if a family has no internet access and lives in a place where a school-provided hotspot won’t pick up the internet and they don’t have the ability or willingness to take their child somewhere like the public library or Starbucks or any of our school parking lots where there is free access, then it will be very unlikely that they can successfully conduct remote learning with that child,” Kuhn said. “In that case, MWISD doesn’t feel it is appropriate to just let that child fall further and further behind.”
Kuhn said other options that meet compulsory education laws include:
• Withdraw to homeschool — students who withdraw to homeschool or an unaccredited private school and later re-enroll may be required to take an exam to determine grade placement, and high school credits may not transfer;
• Withdraw and enroll in a charter school that offers virtual learning;
• Withdraw and enroll in a private school that offers virtual learning;
• Request a transfer to another district that offers virtual learning.
“At the end of the upcoming three weeks grading period, campus administrators will contact the parents and/or guardians of remote learners who have been unsuccessful and inform them that they will be required to switch to face-to-face learning or withdraw to an alternative setting,” according to the statement. "If you have any questions about this matter, please contact your child's campus. We appreciate your cooperation in ensuring that your student is successful in their educational journey.”