During a virtual town hall meeting conducted via Zoom on Thursday evening last week, Elgin ISD Superintendent Jodi Duron presented the school district’s plan to gradually return some students to school campuses.
In addition to allowing school districts to offer only remote learning for the first four weeks of school, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is offering school districts the opportunity to apply for a waiver for a four-week transition period to gradually bring students back to campus. The Elgin ISD school board voted to allow the school district to apply for the waiver during their August meeting.
In July, Elgin ISD families were asked to complete a survey to select either in-person or remote learning. For most Elgin ISD campuses, around 40% of families selected in-person learning. Those who have not indicated which option they wanted will default to in-person instruction unless they notify their campus before September 21.
“If these numbers remain the same for in-person, social distancing is not going to be an issue,” Duron said. “It’s not until we get to 50% or a little over that we might have some challenges with being able to social distance in the building.”
Students who are participating in remote instruction will continue that instructional setting for the school year, but parents can request to change the method of instruction at the end of the grading period as long as they give the school two weeks of notice.
Students participating in on-campus instruction will also continue in that instructional setting for the school year, but parents can request that their child switch to remote instruction because of health and safety concerns at any time.
Based on advice from local health authorities, Elgin ISD is planning a two-phase return to campus during the four-week transition period granted by the TEA waiver.
The first phase would take place from September 21 to October 2. At this time, all pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-graders who have selected in-person instruction will be allowed on campus. Additionally, students of all grades and campuses with special circumstances will be allowed on campus at this time. This includes children of employees, special education students and English as a Second Language (ESL) students.
During the second phase from October 5 through October 16, all students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12th would be allowed on campus if they have selected in-person instruction.
Parents whose children are going back to campus are expected to screen their students daily and only send them to school if they are free of the symptoms of COVID-19, as well as make sure their students understand that they will be wearing face coverings all day at school and must follow the school’s safety protocols. Parents also must maintain communication with their students’ teachers.
Before moving on to answering questions from viewers, Duron ended the presentation by saying that, even if all mitigation strategies are in place and well-implemented, it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 spreading at school.
To view the video of the entire virtual town hall meeting, visit the EISD Media channel on YouTube.