The Board of Trustees approved a waiver from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to extend virtual learning until Oct. 5, allowing the district to phase-in students starting Sept. 8.
Under TEA guidelines, districts can start the year virtually for four weeks, plus an additional four weeks with Board approval. These guidelines are how the district has remained with 100% of students learning from home since the Aug. 13 and Aug. 17 school year start dates.
Our two, local public health agencies have told us that we may face regular closures and quarantine if we open too quickly and experience COVID-19 viral spread in our classrooms. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has defined a region as being in a “hot spot” if it experiences a 7-day positivity rate of more than 5%. Currently, our area has a rate between 10% and 15%.
Phase One Details: Sept. 8–18
In the phase-in, the district would prioritize the following student groups during the first phase:
- Students in special education.
- Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st, 6th and 9th grades
- Students without home internet access
- Children of staff members, including long-term substitute teachers
The second and third phases add additional grade levels back into schools before any student who chooses to be back in-person can do so.
Phase Two Details: Sept. 21–25
On Sept. 16, we will communicate the final details of Phase Two, which will start Sept. 21 – Sept. 25. Our plans are to add the following groups with the students from Phase One:
- 2nd, 7th, and 12th grades
- Students receiving direct dyslexia services through a 504 plan
- Substitute teacher students
Phase Three Details: Sept. 28–Oct. 2
On Sept. 23, we will communicate the final details of Phase Three, which will start Sept. 28 – Oct. 2. Our plans is to add the following groups with the students from Phases One and Two:
- 3rd, 8th, and 11th grades.
All Students Return Oct. 5
Any student who chooses to return to in-person learning will be eligible to come back on Oct. 5, including 4th, 5th, and 10th-grade students. We will continue to offer Virtual Empowered Learning for the entire school year. Students will be able to switch at the end of each grading period, working with their school.
As we work within the guidelines of TEA’s directions and gauge community spread of the coronavirus, other groups of students that opt for in-person learning may return to campus. This step-by-step process will allow the district to:
- Open and stay open
- Reduce in-person student numbers (minimizing person-to-person contact, minimizing spread)
- Implement and refine safety protocols
- Align with public health guidelines
- Honor family choice (families who choose Virtual Empowered Learning can continue learning from home)
The district is planning extensively to provide extensive safety measures once in-person learning resumes on our campuses. Cleaning procedures, contact tracing, facility enhancements, and protective equipment are integral parts of the district’s COVID prevention and response plans.
During the meeting, Trustees discussed staff health and safety, the rising positivity rate of COVID-19 in the two counties, and the possibility of keeping all students in remote learning if viral spread does not subside.
You can also access the following articles to learn more about our in-person re-opening: