1. The school year will begin Aug. 20.
Despite a host of changes and uncertainties due to the global pandemic, the district has no plans to alter its start date, Superintendent Steve Flores said.
2. The first three weeks of school will be virtual only.
Flores told the RRISD board of trustees July 13 that from Aug. 20-Sept. 9, classes will be only be offered online. He pointed to the recent spike in coronavirus cases locally as reason to wait to reopen physical campuses to students and staff.
“We had all hoped we’d be transitioning to more normal times by now, but as you know, COVID-19 is becoming more serious here in Texas, the nation and in the Austin-Round Rock area in particular,” Flores said. “Given that, we have had to remain nimble and flexible in our planning.”
3. Following the first three weeks of all-virtual learning, parents will choose between 100% on-campus instruction or 100% virtual learning for their child.
As it stands, the district plans to offer on-campus learning beginning Sept. 10. For families who elect an all-virtual option, those students would continue remote learning at that time.
4. Students will be able to switch modes of learning at designated times throughout the year.
At the end of every six-week grading period, parents can notify their child’s campus if they wish to change from remote to in-person learning or in-person to remote learning, according to a July 14 district email.
5. Virtual instruction will differ from that of the spring.
“We have made a significant investment in virtual learning, and the virtual experience will look much different than it did last school year,” Flores said.
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, virtual instruction is expected to include synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Students and teachers will also utilize Schoology, a different platform than was used in the past.
6. On Friday, July 17, the district is expected to publish further plans for the 2020-21 academic year.
Called Reimagining Education, the plans will feature an overview of on-campus safety and health protocols and on-campus and virtual student support services. They will also include further details on what the virtual experience will look like and how teaching will occur on campuses.
7. RRISD will host a series of virtual town halls to answer questions.
The town halls will be hosted via Zoom, with all of them beginning at 5:30 p.m. Recordings will also be available after the events on the district’s Facebook page and website.
- July 20: Public health guidelines and safety measures
- July 22: Virtual learning and support services
- July 28: Overview for parents of elementary school students
- July 30: Overview for parents of middle and high school students
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 Texas Education Agency and state and local officials.
“Every decision that we make is based on the best interest of our students and staff and their health and safety,” Flores said. “That will always be our top priority.”