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Many parents want kids back in school with safety precautions in place, Leander ISD survey shows

70% of Leander ISD parents want kids back in schools, a survey shows.

AUSTIN, Texas — While safety is a priority, parents and teachers also want what's best for kids' education. KVUE spoke with several parents and teachers who said they hope kids can go back to school in the fall.

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"You've got to be in school, and these kids, they need their coaches and they need their teachers," said Leander ISD parent Jason Malmquist. "We don't have to cancel everything. We can be smart." 

Malmquist said he understands concerns about COVID-19, but also thinks keeping kids home without extracurriculars and in-person lessons will be detrimental to students.

"I think every family needs to make their own decisions. All we're asking is not to force anything on other people, is to say, 'Give us the opportunity to have a choice,'" said Malmquist.

Leander ISD recently conducted a survey with more than 14,000 participants asking about "blended learning," which means kids spend some days home with virtual learning and some days at school for in-person instruction.

Seventy percent said they would send their kids to school on designated days, 20% would keep kids learning from home and 10% request that Leander ISD consider extenuating circumstances and allow their kids to attend school daily.

LISD said if schools fully open with 100% of students attending school with safety and hygiene practices in place, 46% of parents would send their kids to school, 25% would keep their kids learning from home full-time and 30% said it's too early to decide for their family.

Malmquist started a petition asking Gov. Greg Abbott to save the 2020-2021 in-person school year and extracurricular activities.

"I would like to keep him at home right now; it's just not an option for me," said Jaime Matous, a Hutto ISD parent. "Some people don't have a choice either way. We're just going to have to be diligent in how we do things whenever he gets back from school." 

Hutto ISD plans to offer remote and in-person learning for all its students.

RELATED: 

Austin ISD gives look at 'a day in the life' of virtual learning in reopening information session

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Austin's top doctor, Mark Escott, said kids under 18 are at low risk for serious illness and death from COVID-19, but teachers and staff are at high risk.

Escott said there's insufficient evidence in determining how easily kids contract and spread the coronavirus. He also said there's insufficient evidence on effective strategies for limiting transmission.

Escott suggests districts should weigh the health risks of reopening against the educational risks of providing no in-person class. Districts should prioritize reopening with emphasis on providing full-time, in-person class for kindergarten through fifth grade and special needs students. 

"They lost a lot from not having in-person teaching," said Allen Sosa, a San Marcos ISD special education teacher.

Sosa, like many others, said he's nervous about the start of school.

"The team that I work with wants to get back to be with our students to help them," said Sosa.

"At the end of the day, we all just want what's best for our kids. So we're doing the best we can," said Matous.

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