'It’s extremely difficult to solve a problem without knowing all of the variables': Eanes ISD officials discuss plans for 2020-21 school year

Trustees discussed several options for the 2020-21 school year during a May 26 meeting. (Courtesy Eanes ISD)
Trustees discussed several options for the 2020-21 school year during a May 26 meeting. (Courtesy Eanes ISD)

Trustees discussed several options for the 2020-21 school year during a May 26 meeting. (Courtesy Eanes ISD)

Several Eanes ISD parents submitted public comments for the May 26 regular board meeting, some asking the district to reopen schools and some requesting continued remote learning.

Following those comments, Superintendent Tom Leonard provided the community with an update on COVID-19, discussing a number of potential plans for the fall.

However, at this time the district has not made an official decision. EISD is aiming to present more concrete information by late June.
Leonard noted much is still unknown regarding the feasibility of reopening school in August.

“It’s extremely difficult to solve a problem without knowing all of the variables,” Leonard said, adding that regardless, that is the situation EISD administration is tasked with.

A team of staff including Chief Operations Officer Jeremy Trimble, Deputy Superintendent Jeff Arnett and more is working to develop a plan.



EISD is looking at three options for student and staff re-entry. The first option and perhaps the most desirable, according to Leonard, is to return to campus for the 2020-21 school year. The second option is to continue to implement remote learning, and the third option would include a hybrid model.

Much of this decision could be based on input from staff and parents, according to Leonard, who said the district has already received feedback from an initial survey.

“The wisest choice might be for us to offer a choice but within the parameters that we have,” Leonard said. He said capacity limitations, social distancing standards and other guidelines may fall outside of EISD’s control.

The results from that survey indicated 20% of parents and 20% of staff members said they would not feel comfortable returning to campus prior to the presence of coronavirus vaccination.

Trustees are set to review the survey’s full results during the next board meeting June 23. EISD will also hold a virtual public meeting in June. Community involvement will continue to be emphasized throughout the process, according to Leonard.

“The situation may change in August from the answers we got last week,” Leonard said. “But it’s interesting that our staff and parent community on that survey mirrored each other.”

It’s possible that re-entry will be based on the community’s decision, within the district’s legal parameters. Reopening at all is contingent on state or county permission.

If 50% of staff members chose to teach in-person and 50% of parents chose to send their children to campus, then Leonard said that plan would be feasible, presuming the state allows for capacity at that level.

However, complications will arise if 70% of parents want to return their children to school and only 30% of teachers want to teach in-person.

“The most difficult situation would be if the members of our community and staff wanted to be more in person than the state would allow,” Leonard said.

Throughout the process, Leonard is regularly meeting with a group of 12 local superintendents as well as superintendents across the country. The district is also conducting virtual meetings with instructional staff, bus drivers, operations staff and other employees to gather insight.

EISD is also analyzing potential costs associated with increased cleaning, personal protective gear and additional bus routes if those practices are required.

“We have to try to be prepared, and we have to be able to be prepared as a situation and variables may change throughout the next 12 months," Leonard said.

By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


MOST RECENT

Gov. Greg Abbott on July 27 issued an executive order extending the early voting period for the Nov. 3 election. (Screenshot of Sept. 17 press conference)
Lawsuit takes aim at start date for early voting as some Texas Republicans challenge Gov. Greg Abbott's order

A group of prominent Texas Republicans has embarked on a legal effort to undo the governor's executive order that extended the early voting period for the Nov. 3 election.

A photo of Elong Musk
After filing Travis County site plans, Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks to new gigafactory’s place in the company

Tesla has filed the intial site plans for a massive manufacturing plant in southeastern Travis County.

Straying from traditionals like cheese and pepperoni, Tony C's serves specialty pies such as eggplant, prosciutto and goat cheese, and the Truffle Shuffle. (Courtesy Tony C's Pizza & Beer Garden)
Restaurant Tony C's to open Sept. 24 in Round Rock and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from Central Texas.

Eanes ISD board of trustees candidates will participate in a town hall focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Eanes ISD trustee candidates to discuss diversity in town hall

Four Eanes ISD board of trustees candidates will participate in a virtual town hall at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 to discuss diversity, equity and inclusion within the district.

(Graphic illustration by Rachal Russel/Community Impact Newspaper)
From New Braunfels to Cedar Park, Central Texas outdoor recreation shops scrambling to keep inventory

When combined with temporary state restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many local shop owners are speculating a perfect storm of low supply and high demand is the main reason for changes in an industry that has of late been turned on its head.

Bokabuku opened Sept. 12 in the Hill Country Galleria. (Courtesy Ann Hegarty)
Women's boutique Bokabuku opens in Hill Country Galleria

The women’s boutique offers a selection of clothing, accessories and gifts for all ages in a variety of shapes and styles.

The Eanes ISD board of trustees met Sept. 22 to discuss updated enrollment numbers. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Enrollment at Eanes ISD comes in slightly lower than initial projections

Enrollment at Eanes ISD has decreased by 218 students since last school year, according to Deputy Superintendent Jeff Arnett.

Early voting runs from Oct. 13-30. Election Day is Nov. 3. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Find a polling location where you can vote early in Travis County

Voters can cast their ballots at any of the 37 early voting locations from Oct. 13-30.

Lakeway resident Pat Vanderford speaks during the public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2020-21 budget at Lakeway City Council's Sept. 21 meeting—its first in-person meeting since March. From left: Council Members Sajeev Kumar and Louis Mastrangelo, Mayor Sandy Cox and Mayor Pro Tem Laurie Higginbotham were present at the meeting. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
In first in-person meeting since March, Lakeway schedules budget, tax rate votes for Sept. 28

Lakeway City Council voted Sept. 21 to delay voting on the proposed fiscal year 2020-21 budget and the proposed tax rate until Sept. 28.

August homes sales increased in the Lake Travis-Westlake region. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lake Travis-Westlake region sees double-digit growth in home sales

Lake Travis-Westlake residential home sales increased by 42% in August and dollar volume by more than 84%. Median prices are also up by 15% when compared to August 2019.

Vista Brewing will host a pop-up beer garden at the Hill Country Galleria starting Sept. 24. (Courtesy Giant Noise Public Relations)
Driftwood's Vista Brewing to open pop-up beer garden in Bee Cave

Vista Brewing will offer a selection of its signature draft beers, local wines, ciders and picnic-style snacks, appetizers and merchandise.

City Post is located at 113 E. Eighth St., Georgetown. (Courtesy City Post)
Georgetown to get steakhouse, speakeasy plus more Central Texas news

Read the latest Central Texas business and community news.