Lewisville ISD still has many questions to answer regarding what the 2020-21 school year will look like.
Parents have one big one to answer – will their student attend school in person or virtually?
During the LISD Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday, Superintendent Kevin Rogers said parents will be asked to make that decision in the coming days.
A student can either return to the campus or receive virtual instruction. With the exception of the first three weeks where a hybrid of the two options is allowed by the state, it will be one or the other. Students must remain enrolled in their selected option for at least the first nine weeks, and a two-week notice is required to change paths.
On July 15 parents can start notifying the district which option they will choose. Rogers said more information will be released Monday to help parents make their decision.
He said getting a sense for what all 52,000 students are going to do is critical in planning the staffing model.
“We have to make sure all 52,000 tell us something,” Rogers said.
The district will use its Skyward program to solicit input. Rogers said it’s important that parents of incoming kindergartners who aren’t already part of Skyward get signed up immediately. The first day of school is scheduled for Aug. 12.
In-person vs. virtual
While details still need to be finalized, Rogers said several safety plans are in place for the in-person option.
The district created a five-step, color-coded system to indicate what level of mitigation is needed based on the transmission of the virus.
At the “orange” level, the most restrictive level next to shelter in place, various measures would be included, such as face coverings for students older than 10, temperature screenings, revised classroom arrangements, altered passing periods and limited group gatherings.
At any safety level, hand washing and sanitizing will take place more often. Staff will also wear face coverings. They will be expected to social distance, and visitors to the campus will be limited. Special needs teachers will be provided face shields since some safety measures won’t be possible.
Other potential safety measures include students eating lunch in the classrooms to avoid large gatherings in the cafeteria. Various forms of desk partitions are being explored, as are ways to take students’ temperatures.
For virtual learning, students would never go to the campus and would follow an asynchronous plan where the instruction they receive from the teacher may or may not be live.
LISD would provide the curriculum for pre-kindergarten, which would be half-day only. The elementary curriculum would be offered, minus dual language.
In middle school, standard and pre-AP courses, plus online courses, would be available. The high school curriculum would include standard, pre-AP, dual credit and TXVSN courses, plus online electives.
LISD is also offering a “Virtual Plus” option where secondary students can go to the campus for UIL electives like fine arts and athletics or electives not offered online.
Officials stressed virtual learning won’t be like the at-home learning that took place in the spring, adding that it would be more rigorous.
“Students will have to engage every single day,” said Robert Thornell, chief executive director of learning and teaching. “It will probably be four to six hours a day at a minimum every day.”
Thornell said grading procedures and attendance will be adhered to just like it will be for in-person learning. Rogers said LISD doesn’t plan on using the pass-fail system in the future.
LISD is also proposing two contingency plans. One would be a hybrid model if conditions worsen and limited class time is required by the state. In the hybrid model students would alternate days they go to the campus and days they learn from home. The other contingency plan features complete remote learning.
LISD is moving forward with a plan to add 25 minutes to the end of every school day so it can bank minutes in case schools get shut down because of worsening COVID-19 cases later in the year.
Adding 25 minutes to the end of each day will give the students 460 minutes of instruction per day. That will start at the beginning of the school year, lead to the banking of 13 school days and put the last day of school on May 28.
The other option was adding 45 minutes per day for 480 minutes but starting that in mid-October, banking 15 days and finishing the year on May 26.
The board also favored shifting to remote learning if schools are shut down for more than a week.
“If we’re out for more than a week, it’s a missed opportunity,” said Trustee Jenny Proznik.