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School board discusses fall return plan

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    In late March, the sign outside of Elgin Elementary School read, "We love and miss you."

During Monday’s regular school board meeting, Elgin ISD Superintendent Jodi Duron shared an overview of the school district’s current plans for beginning school this fall.

After gathering feedback from staff and discussing the question with school administrators, as well as receiving further guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on Friday, Duron said they made the decision to delay the fall semester’s start by a week; for example, teachers who would have their first day on August 6 will now start on August 13. 

The most recent guidance from TEA gives schools the ability to start instruction remotely for the first four weeks of school. Additionally, Travis County health officials have instructed schools to begin the fall remotely.

Duron said the school will communicate the changes in the instructional calendar to parents and the community this week.

The school district has prepared a 23-page “return to learn” plan detailing the preparations for returning to school and the protocols to be put into place. Duron gave the school board an overview of the plan and said the document would be posted on the Elgin ISD website soon. She added that the document is still subject to change, and the plan as it was presented on Monday may already be changed because of the TEA’s updated guidance on Friday.

TEA originally offered school districts the option of offering both 100% remote learning and 100% on-campus instruction, then later also allowed schools to offer a third option to parents: a hybrid model, where students could be on-campus part of the time. However, Duron said Elgin ISD does not have the staff or resources to offer all three instruction models. On Friday, TEA gave school districts the flexibility to replace 100% face-to-face schooling with the hybrid model for high schools only; on Monday evening, Duron said high school staff and the administration team are looking to see if they want to take that option.

For remote learning, TEA has given school districts the option of either synchronous learning, which is real-time instruction from teachers, or asynchronous learning, which is self-paced instruction with consistent teacher interaction. With the staff and resources available to Elgin ISD, Duron said they will choose the asynchronous model using Google Classroom.

Duron added that the grading policies will remain the same as they were in the spring before the school closure in March. Her presentation included an outline of some of the expectations of students and parents who participate in asynchronous remote learning, such as following a schedule and maintaining communication with teachers.

The plan also explores the topics of safety measures and training regarding the virus, support services available to students, technology to assist remote learning, resources and support for staff and communication to parents and the public. The full plan is available here in English; Duron said a Spanish version should also be available this week.


Strength camp suspended again

After a two-week break due to COVID-19, Elgin student athletes were to return to strength and conditioning camps on July 13. However, starting last Wednesday, the athletics camp was suspended again indefinitely, according to a statement from Elgin ISD athletic director Jens Anderson released by Elgin Middle School. The statement added that coaches would be in communication with athletes from their respective sports and share additional information as they learn more.