Dallas ISD May Open Select Schools as Emergency Childcare Centers

Local authorities may open some Dallas schools again – but not for students, a memo to Dallas ISD school board members revealed.

As the need for first responders, healthcare providers, and other essential workers increases, so does the need for childcare as schools and other providers remain shuttered in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

A memo to Dallas ISD school board trustees alerted the board to the potential for the district to create memorandums of understanding with specific childcare providers and other entities to create emergency childcare centers in specific Dallas ISD schools.

These centers, the memo said, would help essential workers who may be finding it difficult to find childcare otherwise.

“The district is working with representatives from Dallas County, the city of Dallas, and non-profit leaders to prepare to meet childcare needs that are more unique to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the memo told trustees. Each center would have strict guidelines about health and safety protocols, including temperature screening, curbside drop off and pick up, daily cleaning, and limited class sizes of no more than 10 – including adults.

The district is currently looking at four schools, all near local hospitals. The four include: Kramer Elementary (which would serve Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas and Medical City Dallas), Hogg Elementary (Methodist Hospital), Onesimo Hernandez (the Medical District), and Zaragoza Elementary (Baylor Scott & White and Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center).

“Each of these sites would be open in partnership with another experienced, licensed entity who would actually operate the center,” the memo said, reiterating that the entire project is still in the planning phase.

To be worked out includes which entities the district would partner with, who would provide the nursing staff to do the temperature screenings, who provides the more robust cleaning each day, and making sure that personal protective equipment is available.

The district will provide the rent-free space, the three meals and snacks, instructional guides and materials, and the health and safety protocols. The licensed partner entity will provide the background-checked staffing, and the enrollment process.

“I am very proud that the district continues to step up in new and innovative ways to help our families through this crisis,” trustee Dustin Marshall, whose district includes Kramer, said.

Because of the timing, the MOU’s may need to be ratified, instead of being brought to the board in the course of regular meetings.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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