Dear Bobcat Parents,
Thank you for responding to our district survey last week. We received over 2,000 responses, and your input is vital for helping us gain an understanding for the services we will need to provide to our students and families. We also received a multitude of questions from families regarding our district’s operations for a safe and effective start. Many of your questions followed certain themes, and we are providing answers to those questions in this communication. As we continue to plan for what we all hope to be a full start of school on August 19, our priorities remain:
- safe and supportive schools for our students and staff;
- rigorous learning for all students, both in-person and/or virtually;
- a high level of service to our families and community.
While student safety will always be paramount, the unique responsibilities required of our staff this year necessitate an added focus on providing a safe work environment for the adults who must serve and care for our students. In addition to maintaining new safety protocols in our schools and classrooms, our teachers will be providing both high-quality in-person instruction and also high-quality virtual instruction for families who select this option. Additionally, staff must prepare for the likelihood of partial or full closures if health conditions require entire classes or schools to shift to remote instruction. And finally, our staff must take measures to protect their own health and the health of the families they return home to each night.
On July 28, we will be providing parents final information and sample schedules for virtual learning on both the elementary and secondary levels. Parents will be asked at that time to register their child(ren) for the 2020-2021 school year by committing to either an in-person or virtual instruction plan, and students will be expected to continue their chosen plan for at least the first 9-week grading period. Classroom and virtual instruction will allow for mastery of student learning outcomes (TEKS) for each content area and grade level. Expectations for coursework and grading guidelines will be the same for students participating on either plan. The information below is intended to provide answers for many of the questions we have received thus far and to provide initial information to help parents to make a more informed decision about their child’s education.
Summary of Frequently Asked Questions
What does a full day of virtual instruction entail?
Students committing to virtual instruction will be engaged in learning that includes a combination of live instruction (synchronous learning) and independent work (asynchronous learning). Students will have access to instructional support from teachers during school hours as they follow their on-campus schedule. In addition to remote synchronous learning with their teacher and peers, virtual learning students will also work independently throughout the day. Pre-kindergarten-5th grade students should anticipate working synchronously and asynchronously daily for a minimum of 180 non-consecutive minutes, and 6th-12th grade students for a minimum of 240 non-consecutive minutes. Teachers will set assigned times for intervention and assistance, and students can receive online support from the school counselor and administration.
Students attending school virtually must demonstrate daily progress per the school calendar in order to be counted “present,” and state attendance requirements will be in effect. A reliable internet connection is required, and district computer devices will be provided, if needed.
What does a full day of in-person instruction entail?
In-person instruction will be very similar to life before COVID-19. The difference is that students will be following daily procedures that we are required to implement for student and staff safety.
Will my child have access to technology for assignments?
The CISD Technology Department will distribute iPads to all students enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten -12th grade regardless of the number of students in one household.
Will students enrolled in virtual instruction be permitted to participate in extracurricular activities?
- Students on a virtual plan will currently be permitted access to specialized courses and be permitted to participate in on-campus programs and organizations as applicable.
What will class size look like for in-person instruction?
Once students have committed to their instructional plan for the 2020-2021 school year, we will begin to populate the classrooms and will have a better picture of class size. This is a very fluid matter as staff will be needed for both in-person and virtual learning. Class sizes will be capped at 22 students in grades PK-4th grade unless a waiver is utilized. CISD always makes great effort to cap classes at 28 students in grades 5-12. In classroom spaces that allow it, we will place student desks a minimum of six feet apart when possible.
What hygienic practices and procedures will be implemented to mitigate the spread of viruses that can impact the learning community?
- Daily sanitization schedules will be followed on all CISD campuses to include entrances, exits, classrooms, offices, cafeteria and playground areas.
- Student belongings will be labeled and kept separate, and shared supplies will be kept at a minimum and sanitized after each use.
- Traditional water fountains will be replaced with bottle filling units. Students will be asked to bring their own refillable water bottle.
- Hand sanitizer stations will be available in strategic locations throughout our buildings.
- Staff will engage students in supervised hand-washing of at least 20 seconds two times a day and/or after using the restroom, and staff will limit and monitor the number of students using the restroom.
- Teachers, students and staff members are encouraged to practice social distancing at school, maintaining a minimum of six feet from others when feasible without disrupting the educational experience.
- Student desks and tables will be arranged to provide the maximum space between students during in-person instruction.
- Teacher and staff members will be required to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms and complete a daily health screening prior to entering CISD campuses/facilities.
- Parents and/or guardians are strongly encouraged to screen their children for COVID-19 symptoms prior to drop off for in-person instruction. Staff members will be taking temperature readings of students at the time of arrival and will screen for possible symptoms.
How will meals be handled for elementary and secondary students?
- Students are encouraged to bring their own lunch.
- Self-serve counters will not be available at this time, and students will be given a choice of “grab and go” meals. Hot and cold entrees will be made available to students Pre-kindergarten -12th grade.
- Secondary campuses have additional lunch periods to accommodate social distancing requirements.
- Meals will be served in classrooms and the cafeteria with a rotation schedule. Social distancing guidelines will be adhered in both the classroom and cafeteria.
- Tables and commonly touched areas will be sanitized between uses.
- In order to minimize exposure, parents will not be allowed to eat with their child on campus until the Governor’s current orders expire.
- Microwaves will not be available for student use.
- Fast food delivery will be prohibited at this time in order to limit the risk of contamination. In special circumstances involving your child’s IEP and/or dietary restrictions, please contact the campus principal.
What are the specific procedures if my child, a teacher, or someone at the campus tests positive for COVID-19?
Individuals confirmed or suspected with COVID-19 who themselves either: (a) are lab-confirmed to have COVID-19; or (b) experience the symptoms of COVID-19 must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to campus until the school system screens the individual to determine any of the below conditions for campus re-entry have been met:
- at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications);
- the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
If the individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to school before completing the above stay at home period, the individual must either
- obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis or
- receive two separate confirmations at least 24 hours apart that they are free of COVID via acute infection tests at an approved COVID-19 testing location.
What must schools do if they identify possible COVID-19 cases on campus?
- Schools must immediately separate any student who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school until the student can be picked up by a parent or guardian.
- Students who report feeling feverish should be given an immediate temperature check to determine if they are symptomatic for COVID-19.
- Schools must close off areas that are heavily used by any individual with a lab-confirmed case (student or staff) until the non-porous surfaces in those areas can be disinfected, unless more than 3 days have already passed since that person was on campus.
- District communication will be provided to parents and guardians of all students who had contact with an individual displaying COVID-19 symptoms while attending in-person instruction on campus.
What are the district’s procedures on face coverings?
Per the Executive Order No. GA-29 relating to the use of face coverings during the COVID-19 issued on July 2, 2020, face coverings (including cloth face coverings, face shields, and/or disposable face masks) will be required for all adults and all 4th-12th grade students.
- Students entering Pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade are encouraged to wear a face covering.
- All students riding a CISD bus will be required to wear a face covering.
- Parents are encouraged to provide a face covering for their child that is appropriate for the age level and is comfortable to wear for the duration of the school day.
- If a student arrives on campus without a face covering, one will be provided for them as long as supplies last. If/when we run out of supplies, a student who arrives at school without a face covering will not be permitted to remain on campus.
Will parents/visitors be allowed on campus during school hours?
- Visitors will not be allowed inside school buildings except for essential visits, including 504/ARD meetings and/or conferences that cannot be handled over the phone, by email, or through a virtual meeting.
- In-person volunteers will be strictly limited and must be approved by the campus principal as part of the campus safety plan.
- Any activities by external organizations will be restricted to only those that are absolutely necessary at this time, including AlphaBest. This will provide a safer in-person instructional environment for our staff and students.
- Any approved visitor must wear a face covering and will be screened for COVID symptoms.
Will students have an opportunity for activities such as outdoor recess and field trips?
- Teachers and playground staff will actively monitor students during recess and remind them of social distancing guidelines.
- To minimize the number of students using the playground facilities, the campus will create a schedule that will stagger the use to prevent larger gatherings.
- CISD Maintenance Department will maintain a cleaning schedule for all campuses.
- In accordance with Executive Order GA-29, any person who is actively engaging in a physical activity outdoors and maintaining a safe distance from others will be allowed to temporarily remove their facial coverings during recess time.
- Extra school activities (field trips, evening events, pep rallies, etc.) will be strictly limited and considered on a case-by-case basis per health guidelines and feasibility.
What changes can be expected for students using district provided transportation?
- Hand sanitizer will be provided on all buses.
- Face coverings will be worn by students during the duration of the bus route. Face coverings will be worn by drivers while loading and unloading students, but due to safety guidelines, bus drivers are not permitted to wear a face covering while driving.
- Social distancing techniques, including assigned seats, will be practiced to the greatest extent possible, which is assisted by high-backed seats already in place.
- All buses and other route vehicles will be disinfected daily after both morning and afternoon routes.
- To register your child for bus transportation, go to https://tinyurl.com/y5657stw
Once the form is submitted, it will automatically be sent to the CISD Transportation Department.