GUIDE: Here is information to know about education-related closures, adjustments in the Bay Area

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
(Courtesy Adobe Stock)

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Clear Creek ISD is adjusting to distance learning as facilities close due to coronavirus concerns. Bay Area colleges also face many of the same challenges as campuses switch to remote instruction and make decisions about large-scale events like commencement.

This post will be updated continually with new information. For coronavirus updates in the Bay Area, including information about case counts, visit this page.

Clear Creek ISD

District extends closure through May 4

CCISD facilities, initially slated for potential reopening April 10, will remain closed for another four weeks, according to a community announcement from Superintendent Greg Smith.

On March 31, Gov. Greg Abbott told Texans to stay at home for the next month apart from essential activities and also announced that schools would remain closed until at least May 4, according to the Texas Tribune.

CCISD will re-evaluate its start date during the week of April 27, per the community announcement. May activities have not been taken off the district calendar for the class of 2020—including events like prom and graduation ceremonies—although that could change in the coming weeks, Smith said.

The Individual Graduation Committee will perform necessary assessments in lieu of STAAR testing to determine graduation requirements for students. The IGC, which was not newly established for coronavirus, is utilized annually to determine a student’s proficiency level for the purpose of graduation, said CCISD’s chief communications officer Elaina Polsen.

Teacher job fair goes virtual

CCISD is hosting a Virtual Teacher Job Fair from March 25 through April 4, where job seekers can apply for current job openings for next school year, according to a news release from the district.

The process allows interested applicants to share a personal glimpse into their background through video submissions on the district’s Flipgrid profile in addition to the standard resume and application submittals, per the release. Applicants can upload a two-minute video through Flipgrid under their campuses or departments of choice.

Applications and videos must be submitted no later than April 4, and campus and department staff will reach out to those they are interested in connecting with further.

Campus, district leaders share resources, advice through Facebook Live

During the distance learning period, which is expected to continue at least through early April, leaders at individual campuses as well as district administrators have participated in live events via the CCISD Facebook page to share resources and communicate with parents.

A parent inquired in the comments during the March 24 livestream whether kindergartners would go to first grade if the children do not return to school this academic year. Holly Hughes, assistant superintendent of elementary education, said that the state of Texas is being lenient with guidelines on advancement as they apply to kindergarteners, but the district hopes to keep these students advancing.

“I can’t say for certain that we’ll be back this year,” Superintendent Greg Smith added.

Paul House, principal of Clear Falls High School, said during a March 26 livestream that the school plans to continue with its May 2 prom and May 31 graduation ceremonies.

The high school’s lead counselor Mary Bragg encouraged students to keep up with their college applications and decisions, adding that many schools have extended deadlines. Bragg also said students should feel free to reach out via email or phone, with the regular office phone numbers, if they are struggling with current events.

“We’re not in the building right now, but I can assure you that your counselors are working around the clock,” she said.

In another livestream, Bayside Intermediate’s secondary counselor, Ingrid Brown, encouraged community members to focus on non-school-related things when possible and use the time to get outside. Bayside Intermediate Principal James Thomas also encouraged students and staff to prioritize social and emotional wellness over academic performance, adding that teachers are doing their best to be flexible and helpful with grading practices.

Board of trustees approves transportation spending, election postponement

At the March 23 board of trustees regular meeting, which was held virtually, trustees voted to postpone the upcoming board election until the general election on Nov. 3. This is a one-time action, and the cycle will return to May elections in 2021, according to the agenda item information form presented at the meeting.

Win Weber and Arturo Sanchez—who represent districts 2 and 3, respectively—are both up for re-election and will continue to serve until the results of the November election.

Gov. Greg Abbott on March 13 declared a state of disaster for all counties in Texas and, in response to the upcoming May elections, later signed a proclamation allowing political subdivisions with May 2 elections to move their elections to the general election date.

Applications for a ballot by mail for those voting by mail due to being over the age of 65 or due to disability will still be valid for the November election, according to a media release from the district. The voter registration deadline is Oct. 5, and the deadline to submit an application Oct. 23.

Board members also voted to approve more than $5 million in transportation-related spending at the meeting. The district will spend $1.1 million replacing 15 aging White Fleet vehicles and purchase 10 77-passenger buses, five 48-passenger special needs buses and ten nine-passenger multipurpose vehicles for another $2.1 million. Other spending will include installing Wi-Fi-capable, seven-camera or four-camera systems on the district’s 71 transportation buses, as well as upgrading of old radios in buses to digital capable radios and antennas.

Local organizations offer parent resources for virtual elementary education

Area nonprofit Galveston Bay Foundation is bringing the Bay to the students through the "At Home with The Bay" program during the coronavirus outbreak.

The weekly video series covers a wide variety of conservation topics related to the Bay, geared towards elementary and middle school students. The first video, which debuted March 23, focused on oysters and oyster reefs. Other video topics include wetlands, Bay biodiversity and “The Microscopic Ecosystem.”

Each week, the Foundation will release a weekly video and activity guide on its YouTube channel and website. A link to the activity guide PDF will be in the YouTube video description. Educators subscribed to GBF’s email list will receive the links directly as well.

The activity guide will include educational assessment aspects such as diagram labeling, true/false statements and quick writes. The guide also includes the full directions for the conservation craft and safety information for the weekly activity.

Associated Credit Union of Texas is offering its free online financial literacy program STAR Academy for students in second to fourth grades beginning March 30, according to a news release. These interactive courses will be hosted via Zoom, allowing children to participate from home while their schools are closed. Courses begin Morning and afternoon options are available and registration is now open.

Traditionally offered in person during the summer, STAR Academy is designed to help students learn about personal finance while having fun. STAR Academy students participate in age-appropriate activities to learn about smart money management.

Ivy Kids Early Learning Center in League City is also offering online classes beginning March 30. The live classes are for children ages 2-5 and include activities such as Circle Time, Spanish, yoga and more, according to an Ivy Kids Facebook post. Classes feature the center’s intelligence-based, active learning methodology and are tailored for distance learning, aiming to provide parents with reusable resources and daily instruction.

The program is not limited to current Ivy Kids families and is open to anyone regardless of geographic location. Parents can enroll their child or children any time at the weekly tuition rate, and, if families miss a day, around three hours worth of daily videos for each day missed are available to download, owner Zahra Nanjee said.

Bay Area colleges, universities

San Jacinto College provides medical supplies to area health care workers

San Jacinto College has transferred a pallet full of medical supplies to Harris County Public Health in response to the ongoing need for medical supplies and personal protective equipment for those fighting coronavirus on the front lines, according to a March 29 news release.

Included in the supply transfer were latex and nitrile gloves, surgical and N-95 masks, safety glasses, disposable wipes, gowns, hand sanitizer and alcohol prep pads. Items were delivered Saturday, March 28, to Harris County Public Health.

“As an institution that works closely with our local health care providers to train the next generation of their workforce, it is important for us to support them during this pandemic,” San Jacinto College Chancellor Brenda Hellyer said in the release.

Last week, the College loaned three respirators from the respiratory therapy program to Methodist Hospital Baytown to assist with the shortage in that location.

“Everyone in health care is acutely aware of the crisis we currently have within our communities and health care systems,” said Rhonda Bell, dean of health sciences at the San Jacinto College Central Campus, who coordinated the loan to the hospital. “The opportunity to assist our health care partners is one small bright spot in an extremely difficult time.”

San Jacinto College assists students with emergency funding, changes to altered operations

The San Jacinto College Foundation board of directors approved $200,000 in emergency funding to assist students in need during the ongoing COVID-19 situation, according to a March 26 news release.

Students who need emergency funding to support their education at San Jacinto College should apply for the scholarship online. The foundation will consider awards of up to $250 per student.

San Jacinto College is currently in an altered operations period during the COVID-19 situation. The altered operations began March 23, with all college staff working remotely unless otherwise directed as of March 20. The May 15 commencement ceremony has been postponed, with no new information available about other arrangements as of March 30.

Changes during altered operations include the following:

  • all general education courses will be delivered online;

  • all technical courses will be delivered through a combination of online and face-to-face by appointment, and in groups of no more than 10 people total;

  • all facilities, including child care centers, are closed unless otherwise noted;

  • advising will be provided online with virtual appointment slots for Admissions; Career and Employment; Educational Planning, Counseling and Completion; Financial Aid; Recruiting; Student Engagement – Food Distribution; and Veteran Services; and

  • all college athletics are suspended for the remainder of the spring semester.

University of Houston—Clear Lake professors prepare for successful online instruction

UHCL professors are adapting coursework to transition every student to online learning, according to a March 25 news release.

The university primarily uses Blackboard, a web-based instructional delivery platform, in which professors can deliver fully online classes. Blackboard also allows professors to provide an area where students can readily access course-related content, engage in small or large discussions with classmates, and connect with their instructor. Blackboard Collaborate allows for groups to video-conference, and professors are holding virtual office hours.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Anton Dubrovskiy said in the release that in his department, the lab instructor and teaching assistant will record lab procedures “through the eyes of a student.” At points where observations are supposed to vary among students, a video will present slides with randomly assigned data points which students can then use to produce their unique lab reports.
By Colleen Ferguson

Reporter, Bay Area

A native central New Yorker, Colleen worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact Newspaper before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. She covers public education, higher education, business and development news in southeast Houston. Colleen graduated in 2019 from Syracuse University and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she worked for the university's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange. Her degrees are in journalism and Spanish language and culture. When not chasing a story, Colleen can be found petting cats and dogs, listening to podcasts, swimming or watching true crime documentaries.



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