HOWE - Howe ISD Superintendent Kevin Wilson released a three-page document on July 9 outlining how the district plans to proceed for the upcoming school year.
While the district is still awaiting clarification on many issues, he said the guidance received from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) last week offered some direction for the beginning of the fall semester next month.
Currently, in-person instruction is slated to begin Aug. 19. Remote instruction will be available for any student whose parents are not comfortable sending their child to campus.
At one point, the district had considered a hybrid model, with students attending classes on alternate days. The TEA’s subsequent mandate that all districts in the state offer in-person instruction every day made that option no longer feasible.
"We are finalizing our detailed back-to-school plan and will communicate it on or around July 24," Wilson said. "At that, time parents will choose an instruction method for their children - in person or remote."
According to Wilson, the detailed plan will include information spelling out the district’s policies on face masks, social distancing, transportation, lunch, recess, extracurricular activities, operational procedures, and health and safety considerations.
Regarding face masks, Wilson said that the Howe ISD will follow any orders given by government officials. At this time, the district is still seeking clarification on Gov. Greg Abbot’s executive order mandating masks.
If social distancing of 3-6 feet as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics can be maintained, it is unclear whether students would be required to wear masks as well.
Since a significant number of students are expected to choose the remote option, that could mean that in-person class sizes will be much smaller than normal.
The district has purchased Clorox electrostatic sprayers for each campus to help maintain a sanitary environment.
If students contract COVID-19, the district will implement a procedure for notifying parents and mitigating the virus’ spread in the building.
The district will not identify the names of people who test positive. However, officials will work to identify both students and staff who have been in close contact with an infected individual, and may require them to quarantine.
For those who choose remote instruction, Wilson said that it will look much different from what students experienced last semester.
Paper packets will no longer be issued. Instead, remote instruction will be provided by teachers through recorded lessons and daily Zoom discussions.
It will be designed to mirror classroom lessons. Remote learners will be required to turn in assignments at the same time as those attending classes in-person.
In order to ensure that all at-home students can receive virtual instruction, the district will make electronic devices available to all students. Internet "hot spots" will also be available for students who don’t have access at home.
As for summer school, that is still tentatively planned to begin in-person on July 20. Athletics and other extracurricular activities are also expected to proceed at this point with social distancing guidelines in place. However, this could change at any time based on the spread of the virus.
"I appreciate everyone who has offered encouragement during these unprecedented times," Wilson said. "We’ve all learned that every decision we make is subject to change pending government action and fluid circumstances surrounding the virus. Thank you for your patience and support as we continue to plan for the upcoming school year."