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Remote, in-person learning planned for fall

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    Jerry Hollingsworth

Bandera Independent School District Superintendent Jerry Hollingsworth told parents and students this month that the district will offer traditional, in-person learning and virtual learning for the coming school year in response to the COIVD-19 outbreak.

In a Monday, July 6, video on the BISD Facebook page, the superintendent discussed the work the Texas Education Agency had done in developing guidelines for school districts to follow in opening schools again after shutting them down since Spring Break in the battle to keep COVID-19 from spreading.

BISD plans to begin its school year on Aug. 17.

The TEA released a report called “Comprehensive Guidelines for a Safe Return to On-Campus Instruction for the 2020-21 School Year” the day after Hollingsworth’s video report.

“The Texas Education Agency has given school districts the ability to provide both in person and virtual instruction. Our leadership has begun the process of thoroughly reviewing the guidance from TEA so we may find the solutions that work best for our community,” Hollingsworth said.

“The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority,” he stressed.

The latest agency guidelines call for school districts to prioritize health and safety for students, parents and staff while ensuring that students receive quality instruction, whether they choose to learn in an on-campus environment or remotely.

In the July 6 video, Hollingsworth said BISD wants to get TEA guidelines as soon as possible to build an in-person school model for families to see.

BISD has been polling parent and the community through a “Road To Reopening Community Survey” to get a feel for what the community thinks about in-person learning and remote learning.

The district will use that survey as part of its plans but later will want families to make commitments to in-person learning or remote learning for each family’s student or students.

The target day for those commitments to be made is Aug. 3, two weeks before the planned first day of school.

In his video, the superintendent said a common-sense safety plan is one of the components being evaluated for the in-person instructional model.

That is likely to include touchless thermometers for temperature checks on students as they come to school, anti-bacterial stations throughout BISD campuses and adequate space between students during lunch breaks to comply with safety protocols.

Hollingsworth said the school district prefers the in-person learning option for the majority of students, while maintaining remote learning for students with legitimate health concerns.

The superintendent reminded students in the video that the remote learning planned for the fall will be very different from that provided since in-person classes ended earlier this year.

In the fall, remote learning will be more rigorous and will be led by teachers rather than parents, and sessions will be longer than those offered since the spring.

Students will be expected to cover every subject every day.

Concerning a more immediate schooling issue, BISD confirmed it will start eight days of summer school for selected students on Monday, July 20.

Each class will be limited to 10 students to ensure proper social distancing, which has been a key component of the fight against COVID-19.

BISD principals came up with the idea of offering summer school at the end of July to help students who need extra support to ensure their success in the upcoming school year.