Mandatory masks, staggered arrivals and more: Richardson ISD announces plan for the fall

Richardson ISD will release plans for in-person and virtual school to the public Friday, June 24. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Richardson ISD will release plans for in-person and virtual school to the public Friday, June 24. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Richardson ISD will release plans for in-person and virtual school to the public Friday, June 24. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

After wading through a series of state and county guidelines, Richardson ISD has settled on plans for in-person and virtual learning this fall.

The plans for reopening, which were put together by a district task force, include detailed information to ensure the safety of students and staff, Deputy Superintendent Tabitha Branum said at a July 22 board meeting.

“I think it's really important to know that there are really a whole lot of specifics in the blueprint for our staff to follow,” she said.

The face-to-face learning plan includes daily health screenings for staff and students in addition to mandatory masks for grades 3-12, Branum said. Students in pre-K through second grade are encouraged to wear masks at all times but will only be required to use face coverings during dropoff and pick-up and while in hallways. The district will provide masks for students who do not have one. It will also have a supply of face shields for students and faculty.

School days will be extended by 10 minutes to accommodate staggered arrivals and departures. Elementary school days will begin at 7:50 a.m. and end at 3:10 p.m.; junior high schoolers will arrive at 8:15 a.m. and leave at 3:40 p.m.; and high school students will arrive at 9 a.m. and depart at 4:20 p.m.

Elementary students move to and from classrooms together and only one group will be in the hallway at a time, Branum said.

Junior highs and high schools will operate on an AB block system, meaning students will go to different classes on alternating days to lessen the amount of students in one place at any given time, Branum said. Block scheduling requires class periods to be extended, so this format will accommodate continuous instruction in classrooms, she said.

“While we started the conversation based on the concern around reducing transitions and safety, really the bulk of our conversations [have been] around the instructional benefits of having an AB block,” Branum said.

All classrooms will be equipped with hand sanitizer and disinfectant, said Sandra Hayes, assistant superintendent of district operations. Custodian staff will clean schools before they open and after they close.

Students in elementary schools will continue to use the cafeteria. The district is installing plexiglass shields to allow students to interact while maintaining a safe distance, Branum said.

“They are still going to be able to talk, and they are still going to be able to share their day, but they will be able to do so in a safe way while they are eating their lunch,” she said.

Junior high and high school students will eat in the cafeteria, gyms, libraries and other spaces, Branum said.

Students who ride buses must sit one per row unless they live in the same household. The seat behind the driver will remain empty, and transportation staff will disinfect the bus after each route, Hayes said.

The district is also rolling out RISD Virtual School, which is nothing like the e-learning done in the spring, Stone said. A director will be hired to oversee this aspect, she added.

“We fully acknowledge that the at-home learning in the spring was literally set up within two weeks and by our staff members without any preparation and certainly without any professional development or any training,” Stone said.

Attendance will be taken every day and students will be held to the same requirements as they would for face-to-face instruction, Branum said.

Students in pre-K through third grade will have a combination of teacher-led instruction and self-led activities, Branum said. Parents will pick up assignment packets and drop off completed papers at their home campus. Students in grades 4-12 will have structured courses throughout the day led by teachers. The district has also set up a technology help desk to support students in e-learning.

“The expectation [for virtual school] is that it will be rigorous and that our students will experience growth in their learning,” Stone said.

Virtual school students will not lose their seat at their home campus, she said. They will also have access to meals and opportunities to attend on-campus experiences and spaces, such as the campus library.

If coronavirus data indicates substantial risk, the district will transition all students back to virtual learning. A blended model will be used in the case of moderate risk, Branum said.

Plans for the fall will be released to the public Friday, July 24. The district will start virtual school for all students Aug.19 and currently plans to open campuses for face-to-face instruction Sept. 8.
By Makenzie Plusnick
Makenzie graduated from Tarleton State University in 2019 with a degree in communications. While in school, she interned at the Weatherford Democrat and was editor of Texan News Service, a news outlet at Tarleton. She enjoys true crime podcasts, riding horses, and spending time with her dog.


The Confederate Soldiers Monument stands on the south grounds of the Texas Capitol. A group of Democratic lawmakers have called for its removal, along with other statues and portraits honoring the Confederacy. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
State legislators seek removal of Confederate monuments at Texas Capitol

The decision may ultimately lie with Gov. Greg Abbott and the rest of the State Preservation Board, which last year authorized the removal of a plaque in the Capitol that said slavery was not an underlying cause of the Confederate rebellion.

Viewers can enjoy live music from their car at the Tupps Brewery drive-in concert in McKinney. (Courtesy Tupps Brewery)
Here are 7 in-person and virtual events to attend in and around Richardson

Check out these events happening in August and September.

District officials said they believe a hybrid approach is needed for the high school and senior high school students who have opted to return to classrooms later in the year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Plano ISD revives hybrid learning model for some high schoolers as district gears for remote start

Plano ISD high school and senior high school students who opted for face-to-face instruction this year would still have multiple days of remote schooling each week.

Good Vibes Bar & Grill is expected to open Sept. 18. (Courtesy Good Vibes Bar & Grill)
Sports bar and entertainment venue Good Vibes Bar & Grill coming soon to Richardson

The business will have live music every Friday and Saturday, in addition to darts, pool, dancing and karaoke.

Plano ISD schools will not hold comprehensive exams this year at the end of each semester as the district puts more weight on daily assignments and participation during the pandemic. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Plano ISD nixes comprehensive exams for 2020-21 as district shifts focus to assignments, participation

Plano ISD schools will not hold comprehensive exams this year as the district puts more weight on daily assignments and participation during the pandemic.

Sonic Drive-In will open a location on Lake Forest Drive in McKinney. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Sonic Drive-In opens in McKinney, Koto Hibachi and Sushi now serving diners in Frisco: News from DFW

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Physical therapy is one of the services offered at the clinic. (Courtesy PAM Rehabilitation Hospital of Richardson)
PAM Rehabilitation Hospital opens in Richardson

The practice offers physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy.

Richardson ISD is expected to reopen campuses Sept. 8. (Makenzie Plusnick/Community Impact Newspaper)
Masks, meals and more: 5 things to know before returning to Richardson ISD this fall

Families have until Aug. 6 to make their final decision for virtual or in-person school by responding to an email sent by the district

In the last year, Whataburger launched a new, modern restaurant design and began offering curbside and delivery services for the first time amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the release. (Courtesy Elizabeth James for Whataburger)
Whataburger to celebrate 70th anniversary, unveil food truck, expand into 3 states

Nine more new Whataburger locations are planned by year's end, and 35 new restaurants are proposed for 2021.

The U.S. Census Bureau will halt its counting operation a month earlier than expected. (Courtesy U.S. Census Bureau)
U.S. Census Bureau to halt counting operation a month earlier than expected

The self-response deadline has moved up to Sept. 30.

City Manager Dan Johnson explained the importance of the resolution at a Aug. 3 council meeting. (Courtesy Citizens Information Television)
Richardson City Council votes to allow waiver of Texas law restricting property tax increases of more than 3.5%

State law permits the action when a natural disaster declaration has been put into place; however, there are no plans to issue the waiver for the upcoming fiscal year.