Pflugerville ISD officials preview virtual learning guidelines for start of school year

Pflugerville ISD administration building
Pflugerville ISD officials Aug. 6 previewed the district's plans to provide online-only instruction to begin the 2020-21 school year. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Pflugerville ISD officials Aug. 6 previewed the district's plans to provide online-only instruction to begin the 2020-21 school year. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Pflugerville ISD students attending virtual classes to begin the school year will likely receive more instruction than the minimums required by state law, according to district documents.

On Aug. 6, Brandy Baker, chief academic and innovation officer for PfISD, discussed the school district’s “Return to Learn” plans with trustees at a workshop.

According to the plans shown to trustees, the district’s high school students will receive at least 90 minutes of synchronous instruction per class per week to begin the school year. Synchronous instruction is teaching done live and face-to-face online, according to the Texas Education Agency.

The minimum amount of synchronous learning each student receives per week varies by grade level, according to district documents. For example, kindergarten students will receive approximately four hours of face-to-face instruction every week, while middle school students will receive a minimum 10 hours of synchronous instruction per week.

A full list of proposed schedules by grade can be previewed on the district’s website.

“There will be some variance from campus to campus as to what their schedule will look like. What will not vary is the amount of instructional time each of our students receive,” Baker said.

The plans shown Aug. 6 are still in draft form, and adjustments to the plan will “probably” be made, Baker said.

According to the plans shown to trustees, the district will exceed the daily minimum academic work engagement minutes set by the TEA across all of its grade levels.

“The other thing TEA is going to look at is [if we are] providing access to academic work that ensures engagement is equivalent to direct contact work that students would have engaged in over the normal year,” Baker said. “We are exceeding the minimum minutes.”

The district’s Return to Learn plan is expected to go to the board of trustees Aug. 20 for a final vote, according to Baker’s presentation. PfISD will then submit its plan to the TEA no later than Oct. 1 for approval and funding.

Students, families and officials can review the full Return to Learn draft plans on the district’s website here.

PfISD’s school year is scheduled to begin as virtual only next week, beginning Aug. 13, according to the district. State leaders July 17 announced school districts can apply for the option of offering up to eight weeks of online-only education to begin the school year.

Trustees on Aug. 6 gave PfISD Superintendent Douglas Killian the authority to request that waiver from the state, though the district has made no announcement on whether it will use the option.

“We’re using this four-week waiver in case we need it. We aren’t saying we’re actually doing it,” Killian said Aug. 6.

Killian further stated the district will release a survey to staff and parents near the end of August to determine if they need additional time for remote learning.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


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