As summer draws to a close, we turn our attention to backpacks, coloring pencils, calculators, first-day-of-school outfits, and new notebooks. That’s right, the autumn ritual has returned. We’re going back to school! But as we know, the current COVID-19 conditions have changed the tradition. What exactly can we expect, and when? We’ll take a look at several school districts’ reopening plans and highlight all the major important info. Before we start, please be aware that these guidelines are frequently updated and altered! That doesn’t help the confusion, we know, but I’ve embedded each school districts’ news webpages to help you navigate the coming weeks. Don’t worry, you’re not alone!
As of August 7th, Austin ISD’s first day of school will be September 8th, 2020. Their first four weeks of class will be remote instruction, with an opportunity for on-campus learning for students without reliable internet or technology access. With the Texas Education Agency’s approval, Austin ISD hopes to add a following four-week period for students who chose on-campus learning to receive instruction in small groups.
While not everything of their policies is set in stone, Austin ISD’s most comprehensive description of what to expect comes from a Reopening Overview published on July 2nd. In it, Austin ISD states they will not be altering breaks or extending the school year, and teaching and learning will have several formats. The first of these is on-campus, face-to-face learning: the typical school environment of meeting physically in a classroom with social distancing and health safety measures. These look like hand sanitizer in every classroom, daily health screenings for teachers and students, arranging desks to be 6 feet apart, and wearing masks.
The second learning format is at-home distance teaching and learning. This is what we’ve adapted to since COVID-19 hit, so it will sound pretty familiar. At-home instruction is where students receive their lessons and learning material online from their teacher, either synchronously or asynchronously. “Synchronous” instruction means students and teachers meet at an agreed time online. “Asynchronous” instruction means the student will receive their instruction and complete their work at their own pace. The final learning format is a hybrid of the two mentioned above, where a student learns both at school and online. We’re not exactly sure what this will look like, but Austin ISD currently has working drafts to give you an idea of Monday through Friday for on-campus learning and distanced-learning.
As for transportation, bus procedures will practice health protocols, enforcing social distancing in seating assignments, and providing hand sanitizer. For meal services, Austin ISD will provide breakfast and lunch in all schools. Foodservice staff and assistance will be screened daily and wear a mask at all times. Students will be required to wash hands before and after eating and maintain social distancing in the cafeteria. Austin ISD also plans to send meals home with students on the days they are not on campus, and run curbside food deliveries for students that remain 100% virtual.
For Austin ISD news updates, click here. To read the Reopening Overview, click here.
As of August 2020, Houston ISD plans to virtually reopen on September 8th, 2020, and remain online for the first 6 weeks. Houston ISD has created the Parent Introduction to Virtual Learning online course to help parents and guardians with this computer-based return. Lessons include ways parents can support virtual learning, technology support, support for special populations, and academic policies for virtual learning. The course is available on August 10th, and Houston ISD asks all parents to complete the course by September 4th. To access the course, click here.
For virtual learning, students have several learning requirements. To be counted “present,” students must complete one or more of the following daily:
• Participate in the HUB and complete independent reading or work assignments
• Interact with their teacher virtually via Teams as part of live or small group instruction
• Complete and submit assignments through the HUB (when the HUB is unavailable, students may submit assignments via email, photos, phone conferences, or other forms of documentation)
For elementary school students, one or more of these actions must be completed by 2:30 PM. For middle schoolers and high schoolers, the deadline is 3:30 PM. However, a student’s absence can be reversed if they complete one of the daily requirements by 11:59 PM on the same day. Houston ISD will continue to provide technology, services, accommodations, and alterations for special populations.
Houston ISD intends to provide on-campus instruction starting October 19th, 2020. Once school buildings reopen, all employees, students, visitors, and vendors will be screened daily, wear masks, wash hands regularly, and maintain social distancing. If students, employees, or visitors don’t have a mask, Houston ISD will provide one. Additionally, students will have staggered drop-off and pick-up times. They will be required to enter and exit the school without their parents or guardian.
As for meal services, students choosing in-person instruction will receive individually-wrapped breakfast and lunch. Curbside meals will be available for students enrolled in virtual learning. For transportation, bus capacity will be limited to 26 people, and bus services will only be available to certain students based on their needs.
To visit Houston ISD’s News Blog, click here. To read Houston ISD’S Reopening Plan, click here.
SAN ANTONIO ISD
Unlike the other school districts above, San Antonio ISD uses five student occupancy levels based on health metrics to decide when and how many students will return to on-campus learning. These levels are based on three statistics: the COVID-10 infection positivity rate in Bexar County, the number of days it takes for the local case count to double, and whether numbers are trending upward, downward, or flattening over a certain number of days. San Antonio plans to go back to school on August 17th, 2020, under Level 1 Red conditions, which means learning will be 100% remote. San Antonio ISD plans to upgrade to Level 2 Yellow – up to 25% in-person learning – sometime after Labor Day. To learn more about the student occupancy levels, click here.
As mentioned above, instruction under Level 1 Red conditions will be entirely remote for the first 3 weeks of school. There will be daily virtual contact between teachers and all students. Students are counted “present” if they participate daily on Canvas or Zoom or complete and submit assignments to their teacher on Canvas. Students enrolled in Pre-K through 5th grade must complete a daily minimum of 180 instructional minutes, and students enrolled in 6th grade through 12th grade must complete a daily minimum of 240 instructional minutes. San Antonio ISD plans for learning to be majorly asynchronous with synchronous touchpoints.
After the first 3 weeks of learning, San Antonio ISD offers parents and guardians the choice to continue 100% remote learning or switch to 100% on-campus learning. As the school year continues, parents and guardians can change their student’s education setting every nine weeks. San Antonio ISD encourages parents and guardians to make their educational setting decision by the first day of school, August 17th, 2020, by filling out a form for each of their students. To access the form, click here.
Since all school buildings will be closed, there will be no transportation services. Instead, school buses and bus stops will serve as pick-up locations for technology, mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, and student-meal delivery vehicles. San Antonio ISD will also provide curbside pick-up for student meals, and provide multiple meals throughout the day.
To visit San Antonio ISD’S Communications Hub, click here. To read San Antonio ISD’s Reopening Plan, click here.
Dallas ISD’s first day of school is September 8th, 2020. As of right now, Dallas ISD has not specified whether they will be doing remote or on-campus learning. However, they have defined what the future might look like. Face-to-face learning would be on-campus instruction, 5 days a week, with health safety measures in place. Remote learning would have asynchronous instruction, with times throughout the day allocated to synchronous video conferences. A hybrid model would only be available for students in grades 9-12, with on-campus learning for hands-on courses and days designated for distance learning.
For potential on-campus learning, Dallas ISD will require students, staff, and visitors to wear a mask at all times before entering school buildings and will provide each student with 3 reusable face masks. Students, faculty, and visitors entering the building will have their temperature taken upon arrival. Once the school day starts, students will transition from face masks to wearing face shields, and practice social distancing at all times. The only exception is for bubble groups, which are groups of 4-5 students that wear face masks or shields and learn and move throughout the school together.
For Dallas ISD’s News Hub, click here. To read Dallas ISD’s current Reopening Plan, click here.
As we can see, there are several approaches to going back to school, but not a whole lot of flexibility within them. Some districts are restricted to remote learning, and only a few others offer on-campus learning or hybrid learning formats. You can get one or the other, and neither option will be what we’re used to. You’re painted into a corner, we get it. But you’re in luck! Here at Planting Seeds Tutoring, we’re committed to maintaining your student’s education at the highest level, regardless of the circumstances. To help ease the back-to-school transition, we have several options for your student: homeschooling, small group classes, and one-on-one tutoring sessions, all online or in person. We also have a feature specifically aimed at helping remote learners, Pod Tutoring! Pod Tutoring is where one of our tutors meets with a group of 2-6 students who get their learning material from their school teachers at a specified time and place, either online or in-person. Our tutors are well-versed in all school subjects, and are ready to begin when you are! Click here to get started. No matter your school circumstance, Planting Seeds Tutoring is here to guide you through it. With whatever ups and downs are to come, we’ll be a step ahead. So breathe easy! We’ve got you covered, and wish you a happy return to the school year.