Little Elm ISD expects to have regular in-person classes for the 2020-21 school year, with a bit of flexibility built into the plan as well.
During Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting, officials updated the board on the plans for the school year. The plan includes 100 percent in-person learning with options for online learning. There will also be sporadic short-term closures.
“Our goal is to return to a normal schedule in the fall,” said Superintendent Daniel Gallagher. “However, due to the nature of this pandemic and its fluidity, it is going to be critical we think out every possible scenario and our response to it.”
The district’s direction falls in line with what many parents have supported. LEISD recently launched a ThoughtExchange program in which parents shared their opinions on various topics regarding the return to school. The online survey ran June 4-10 and included questions about concerns families have about the upcoming school year. Participants were asked to rank items that were of most importance. It has nearly 1,300 participants.
“I think the biggest take away from our ThoughtExchange we launched to the community is that they want their children back in school,” said Cecelia Jones, director for communications. “That's exactly what we want for our students as well. It is important students receive in-school instruction from their teachers, socialize with their friends and participate in extracurricular activities. Even though we will be ready for 100% in-school learning, we know we have to be prepared to implement whatever is necessary.”
Jones said some of the common thoughts gained from the ThoughtExchange included the concern for having buildings and classrooms clean.
Jones said the district has been cleaning the facilities since March and during the summer when the administration is in the building. She said buildings are sprayed after the last person has left.
Other comments on ThoughtExchange included the need for flexibility on excused absences, having a plan for social distancing on campus and having a plan for remote learning.
Decisions are also shaped by a task force Gallagher created consisting of various district departments. The task force has met weekly to outline best practices in a “what if” scenario, the district said.
LEISD is prepared to launch a revamped version of its at-home learning program in case in-person classes are ordered to be shut down again, the district said. Jones said the 100 percent online learning option is a parent choice or in the event there are mandatory closures.
“I do understand we have families who may want their children to remain at home and receive their education online,” Gallagher said. “We are working on enhancing our online program for those families as a choice option. Our goal is to meet the educational needs of our students whether they are attending classes in our buildings or through our online program.”
LEISD is working with the Texas Education Agency, health organizations and other entities to help guide its plans, the district said. The district will communicate more about the 2020-21 school year in the weeks as more information is finalized.