Update on Return to School from Supt. Washburn
July 21, 2020
Dear DSISD Staff and Parents,
I know that our staff, parents, and community are seeking direction on what to expect when school starts this fall. While this is a continuously evolving situation, a few critical decisions were made at last night's (July 20) DSISD Board of Trustees special meeting that I want to share.
First of all, we confirmed that school will begin on Tuesday, August 18, as scheduled on the board-approved calendar.
Secondly, we determined that the district will start the school year with a remote learning model for the first four weeks of school. On July 17, the Texas Education Agency announced that this "flexible start" to school was permissible, which also allows this transition time for staff to learn and prepare for new safety protocols as they begin online instruction. Remote learning will look different than it did in the spring when we had a very limited time to shift our instructional methods. District and school leaders have spent the last few months developing “Remote Learning 2.0," which will include structured schedules, daily engagement expectations, direct instruction by teachers, and aligned content.
We will seek clarification and consider all options regarding extracurricular activities. These plans will remain subject to change based on changing state executive orders and/or county health ordinances.
TEA’s direction also included a potential four-week extension (beyond the first four weeks of school) being available with board approval via a waiver request; the DSISD Board of Trustees has not yet discussed this option.
The board has requested the creation of a task force to provide feedback and recommendations on health and safety protocols in the fall and ongoing guidance throughout the school year. We will continue developing our remote learning plans, which will include both asynchronous and synchronous delivery methods. We will communicate these plans to our parents and staff members soon. Our return-to-school plan is being revised based on discussions at the board meeting, and we will be sharing additional resources, including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on a “Return to School” webpage. The board also indicated plans to compose an advocacy letter on COVID-related issues directed to officials at the national, state, or local levels.
On July 29, we will launch our annual enrollment verification process. As part of this process, parents will identify their intention for their students’ enrollment in the fall. They will choose on-campus instruction or remoting learning, to go into effect following the initial four weeks. This selection will remain in effect until the end of the nine-week grading period. The collection of this data is essential for the district to develop schedules for our teachers and students. We will also be surveying our teachers to collect their feedback on their return to school.
We understand that these decisions greatly impact the lives of our staff and parents and we do not take them lightly. As a district, we are ready to take on the challenges created by the pandemic with the best interest of our students and staff in mind. There are many factors and opinions to balance as we navigate this process, and we thank you for your support as we do so.
Superintendent of Schools