8 things parents, teachers should know as Comal ISD readies for 2020-21 school year

Comal ISD plans to open for in-person instruction on Aug. 25. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Comal ISD plans to open for in-person instruction on Aug. 25. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Comal ISD plans to open for in-person instruction on Aug. 25. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

As the start of the 2020-21 school year nears, questions remain about the fate of education amid the coronavirus pandemic. Comal ISD staff is preparing to release official plans throughout the month and has created the Comal Parent Center to inform families of district decisions. Here is a look at a few key plans for the school year.

1. The school year will begin Aug. 25.

Despite a host of changes and uncertainties due to the global pandemic, the district has no plans to alter its start date, Superintendent Andrew Kim said.

2. Enrollment began July 21.

Enrollment for returning students began July 21, and new students can enroll beginning July 28.

On Aug. 11, parents will be asked to make a final decision regarding their preference for their child to participate in on-campus or remote learning.

3. Comal ISD has no plans to shift to online-only instruction.

On July 15, the Texas Education Agency confirmed school districts have permission to phase in a return to on-campus instruction during the fall semester without the risk of losing state funding.

“The TEA has given authority to local school districts to potentially delay the on-campus portion of the school year by three weeks to go 100% remote learning for all kids,” Kim said in an episode of the Comal ISD weekly podcast, Comal Radio. “The technicality is that you’re supposed to provide on-campus learning to those kids that want it.”

According to Kim, the district has no plans to move the first few weeks of school to online only and is expected to offer in-person instruction for students who choose that option.

A survey of parents conducted by the district showed 62% of participants would choose to send their children to in-person school if they had to make the decision at the time of the survey.

4. School days will be 10 minutes longer.

In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Comal ISD adjusted its school calendar for the 2020-21 school year to add extra minutes to each school day to account for potential missed days that would not have to be made up.

The additional 10 minutes CISD built into its school days add four surplus days to the calendar.

According to Kim, the addition of the days will allow the district to adhere to the calendar determined at a previous board meeting while still being flexible with how missed days are made up.

5. Students will have to quarantine for 14 days if they are exposed to the coronavirus.

If a student who chose in-person instruction is required to self-quarantine for 14 days after exposure to the coronavirus, they will participate in remote learning before returning to campus after that period.

6. Virtual instruction will differ from that of the spring.

In the spring, the district utilized an asynchronous model, a form of learning that allows students to complete the lessons on their own time rather than at set, scheduled video conference intervals.

For the 2020-21 academic year, the district is currently developing a plan for remote learning and is collecting information from parents to determine how many teachers will be assigned to remote instruction.

CISD will incorporate live, synchronous lessons, and asynchronous assignments will utilize several online platforms:

  • Pre-K to fifth grade will use Seesaw.

  • Grades six to 12 will use Google Classroom or ECHO.

  • Dual-credit and dual-enrollment students will use Canvas.

Students who are in remote learning will also have an option to return to on-campus instruction at the beginning of each nine-week grading period.

7. Masks will be required in school.

“We know that kids interacting with our teachers face-to-face is the best way to educate,” Kim said in the July 20 episode of Comal Radio. “if our whole goal is to have school every day... then wearing a mask is the way to do it.”

Students and teachers will be required to wear an approved mask or face covering such as a surgical mask, cloth mask or clear face shield.

The district has also purchased 350,000 disposable masks, 60,000 reusable masks and 5,000 face shields for student and teacher use, according to Joe McKenna, the district's executive director for safety and support.

8. All plans are subject to change.

As the start of the semester approaches, district officials have stated numerous times that plans may be adjusted depending on public health conditions and on directives from the TEA and state and local officials.

For additional information about the school district’s plans, visit the Comal Parent Center or email questions to [email protected].
By Lauren Canterberry
Lauren began covering New Braunfels for Community Impact Newspaper in 2019. Her reporting focuses on education, development, breaking news and community interest stories. Lauren is originally from South Carolina and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.


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