Garland ISD’s Board of Trustees received a high-level planning overview related to health/safety, operations and teaching and learning updates related to reopening schools in the fall during Tuesday night’s regular board meeting.
Chief Leadership Officer Susanna Russell reported that in the first week of May the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a decision matrix to help school determine whether their campuses are ready to reopen. GISD is still at the “Do Not Open” stage.
Criteria to consider include: Will reopening be consistent with applicable state and local orders? Is the school ready to protect children and employees at higher risk for severe illness? Are you able to screen students and employees upon arrival for symptoms and history of exposure?
“We are still planning on how we will screen students on arrival for symptoms and history of exposure. We have a plan in place for staff that we deployed last week, it’s working well and the subcommittee is working on translating that to how it will look for students,” Russell said. “All of the plans that we are developing will include all aspects of the health and safety actions listed on the decision matrix, as well as ongoing monitoring and responding to signs and symptoms, and all of these plans are moving for us to be able to open.”
The same healthy hygiene practices for staff returning to work will be in place when students/staff return to school – hand washing, face coverings, adequate supplies and signage.
Russell noted that social distancing for students will also include limiting sharing of equipment and supplies, food items, electronic devices, books and learning tools.
There will be intensified cleaning, proper use of disinfectants and ventilation.
For high risk staff and students, plans will be made to limit exposure and determine what accommodations will be needed.
The district will also expand teaching to include training for children about social distancing rules, health and hygiene and cleaning protocols.
Russell said the next step is to wait for guidance from TEA and the Texas Department of State Health Services.
She said they recently got guidance from UIL related to a June 8 possibility of returning kids to marching band practice and strength and conditioning camps and the district team is finalizing their action plans in preparation for those fall activities.
“Using our surveys of staff and families as well as our student performance data, we will be tiering our students who need accommodations and interventions and we will use all of that information comprehensively to guide our responsive planning,” Russell said.
Chief Academic Officer Jovan Wells went over what the new school year could look like.
“We are anticipating that there are going to be ongoing disruptions due to COVID-19 next year as well, so throughout the 2020-2021 school year. I think it is imperative for us to begin planning for that possibility so that we can make sure that we mitigate additional learning loss,” she said.
She stated they anticipate high student absenteeism, with some students consistently physically absent.
An intersessional calendar will include longer breaks dispersed throughout the year to provide students with the opportunity for remediation and enrichment.
Wells went over the benefits of the potential intersession calendar, which includes integrating strategically placed intersession weeks throughout the calendar in the fall, spring and summer; potentially adding 15 minutes to the day; adding five instructional calendar days; adding two to three weeks of intersession for remediation and acceleration throughout the year; a proposed nine-week grading cycle to allow time for student reteach, spiraling of missed TEKS, etc.; identify priority students using MAP data and develop targeted instruction plans; identify high performing teachers using MAP data and provide additional compensation during intersession weeks; offer students an opportunity for intensive remediation and acceleration; offer students a “strategic advantage” and allow time for additional focused test prep; and teacher contract days will remain the same.
Three instructional models were presented to the board. These models are based on the situation the district may face when school returns.
Option 1 is a traditional instructional delivery with accommodations for targeted students. The majority of student will receive face-to-face instruction; vulnerable students will continue to receive remote learning opportunities.
Option 2 is to continue with virtual mode of instruction delivery. At-Home Learning Continues for all students with ongoing online targeted teacher support.
“Because we’ve had time to refine this At-Home Learning over the spring as well as for our summer learning, this model would look more like teacher supporting students more versus solely relying on parents supporting instructions,” said Wells. “Think of this more as parents supporting in terms of homework assignments, however, the teacher will be delivering the content, whether it’s a recording or a live session with the teacher.”
Option 3 is a draft blended model. Students will receive face-to-face instruction and virtual instruction on alternating days due to decreased class sizes and bus capacity.
Once the plans have been refined a calendar will be presented to the board for approval.