Paris ISD students can expect to start their school year whether at home or in class on Sept. 8 following action by the district’s Board of Trustees on Monday.
No campus will have to extend its school day beyond an additional 20 minutes in order to meet the 75,600 minutes of education as required by state law, administrators told trustees in a meeting at the high school cafeteria to maintain social distancing. If the calendar remains unchanged, the school year will end on June 4, which also is the district’s senior graduation date.
The change was recommended by the Paris-Lamar County Health District, administrators said.
Administrators are issuing another parent survey today, to be available online and through the mail. Assistant Superintendent Althea Dixon emphasized the importance of this survey because it will influence such decisions as campus start and end times, accommodations for at home or in class learning and other facets of educating children during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Parents will be encouraged to provide their children transportation to reduce the number of children on buses. The district is working on getting an aide on every bus to help students maintain social distancing and to ensure students wear a mask while on the bus, Assistant Superintendent Gary Preston said. Administrators also are looking at asking the staff who work the morning drop-offs to come in earlier to accommodate families who may be able to drop off students, but will have to do so earlier than the usual time frame.
“That’s why this survey information is so critical for us to get back so that we have an idea of how many kids are going to be riding the bus, and we’ll have to compare to see how many parents will need to show up earlier than they normally would,” Preston said.
The school district will rely on parents to report whether their children are ill or have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 to prevent an outbreak, and because of privacy laws like HIPAA, parents will essentially be on the honor system for such reports.
In answering the many questions from board members about the safety measures that will be in place, Superintendent Paul Jones read a statement from the Texas Education Agency, which said “it is not possible to eliminate all risk of furthering the spread of Covid-19, the current science suggests there are many steps schools can take to reduce the risks to students, teachers, staff, and their families significantly.”
Jones said the district will encourage those families that have or have access to computers and the internet to choose the at-home learning option to further reduce the chance of an outbreak on a Paris ISD campus.
“Online learning is going to be a lot different than what it was in the spring,” Jones said. “It’s not going to be the paper packets. It’s going to be more rigorous. It has to reflect what the kids are doing in person on a daily basis.”
The district is preparing a Frequently Asked Questions section for its website to help answer a myriad of questions about this unusual school year, Jones said.
Dixon previously told trustees administrators are preparing an asynchronous education plan that may incorporate synchronous, face-to-face education remotely with a teacher, in addition to bringing students back to class.
The asynchronous plan will provide the district flexibility should there be an outbreak because an exposed class can move to the remote learning without losing required minutes to complete the school year.
An outbreak in a classroom has the potential to affect an entire campus, as Jones said the Paris-Lamar County Health District may shut a campus down if 8% of the student body tests positive for Covid-19.
North Lamar ISD update
At an early morning meeting Monday, North Lamar ISD trustees revised the school calendar passed a week ago to change the end of school date to June 4 from June 7, and for teachers to report for duty Aug. 19.
Students whose last names begin A-L report Sept. 8 and those with last names M-Z report Sept. 9 for a day of training before in-person classes begin Sept. 10.
Prairiland ISD starts online Aug. 24
Prairiland ISD online classes will begin Aug. 24 with in-person classes beginning Sept. 8, according to action school trustees took Monday night.
The last day of classes is May 27 with graduation scheduled for May 28, according to Superintendent Jeff Ballard. Teachers are to report Aug. 10.