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Following Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement Monday that students can return to the classroom as early as June 1 for summer school, it’s unclear how many local school districts will capitalize on the opportunity.
Officials from several school districts told the Rivard Report on Tuesday they were still figuring out how to proceed.
The Texas Education Agency stated that schools must make in-person summer school attendance optional and should prioritize on-campus programming for students with significant academic gaps, students with disabilities whose needs are hard to meet in a virtual setting, homeless students, English language learners, and students in programs that cannot be done remotely.
The state agency also told districts they should hold classes in areas where desks can be placed at least 6 feet apart; should not bring students together for assemblies, field trips, or other gatherings; meet with students outdoors whenever possible; and have students eat lunch at their desks when possible.
If a student or staff member is diagnosed with the new coronavirus, the school must identify any people who were in close contact with that person. This could include the entire class or staff members working with the class. Any person determined to have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus should stay home for two weeks, according to TEA guidance.
Before Abbott’s announcement, many districts expected to offer instruction online with opportunities for in-person programming later in the summer.
San Antonio ISD plans to start its summer program on July 20 with small groups of students on site. District leaders are developing details for how on-site learning will work.
“With the governor’s announcement yesterday, we are looking into the possibility of having some high school students come to schools in June, in small numbers, for those who need extra assistance for [career and technical education] exams,” SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price said.
North East ISD will operate online academic programming in June. The district plans for both virtual and in-person instruction to begin in July.
The first in-person programming would take place on July 20 at the district’s Re-Engagement Summer Program at schools in high-poverty areas and focus on reading, math, and social-emotional learning. The district also plans to operate a summer enrichment camp focused on invention and project-based learning starting July 20.
The area’s largest school district, Northside ISD, is still working on plans to bring students back to campus, but there are no concrete details yet. There is potential for some targeted groups of students to return to campus in June, spokesman Barry Perez said.
Judson ISD spokesman Steve Linscomb said Abbott’s “announcement certainly has a bearing on how we plan, but [Judson ISD is] still formulating how that will look” and when to bring students back.
Somerset Independent School District’s associate superintendent of instructional services Sheila Collazo met with principals to discuss Abbott’s order Tuesday. Somerset’s initial plan was to start summer school in July, Associate Superintendent of Operations Ramiro Nava said. The district was waiting for the “green light” from the state to reopen campuses.
“We’re still working through all the social distancing guidelines and what that means,” Nava said. “If we can get things to where they need to be, it is something that we will consider.”
In East Central ISD, the district planned to offer credit-recovery opportunities for high school students. The governor’s announcement could change those plans.
ECISD is also exploring the possibility of offering sports camps in line with the governor’s guidelines.
Local school districts are at the tail end of the 2019-20 school year. All will end their regular academic calendar by the first week of June.