“I will tell you that this is probably the most unusual start to the school year that we’ve ever experienced in terms of the fluidity of our numbers,” Arnett said.
As of the Sept. 22 meeting, total enrollment was 7,954. Arnett said prekindergarten through eighth grade all experienced minor enrollment decreases.
Despite a prediction in August of record-high enrollment numbers at Westlake High School, there has been no major increase from the 2019-20 school year. The school's enrollment has remained steady at 2,847 students.
Approximately 52% of the district’s 7,954 students returned to campus Sept. 21 as EISD increased its capacity for in-person instruction. Based on guidelines from the Texas Education Agency, families will have the choice to switch from in-person instruction to remote, or vice versa, at the end of the grading period.
EISD is also utilizing a blended learning model for several class sections, meaning a teacher or multiple teachers will instruct a group of in-person students as well as remote students. Arnett said this model is used extensively at the middle and high school levels, as well as at Bridge Point Elementary School.
“We had to look at a blended model because we don’t have an even split between the number of kids that want to be remote and the number of kids that need to be in person,” said Heather Meek, the Bridge Point Elementary School principal.
Concerns were raised by board members and parents regarding class sizes, particularly at the fifth-grade level in Forest Trail Elementary. One fifth-grade class at Forest Trail totals 36 students. According to Principal Cody Sprayberry, those students have since been split into two groups inside an open classroom.
Additional educational staff—including Sprayberry—are rotating in to provide extra support for the teacher, the principal said.