Guidelines released May 7 by the Texas Education Agency indicate that school districts across the state are likely to experience disruptions in the 2020-21 instructional year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elaina Polsen, the district’s chief communications officer, said in a May 13 email that the TEA recognizes the fast-changing nature of the current situation and is providing guidance to educators accordingly.
“[Superintendent Greg Smith] is in regular contact with the Commissioner of Education and Region 4 superintendents,” Polsen wrote. “The work of the Safely Reopen CCISD Committee will be critical in shaping what our school year looks like.”
The committee charges and guidelines were finalized at a May 11 board workshop. Committee members will be tasked with developing a set of recommendations that “reflect the best, sound medical advice; practicable changes to normal district operations in order to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread to students and adults; and identify resources required in the event blended learning or distance learning is required due to a continued outbreak,” according to the final text of the charges.
Committee guidelines include adhering to state and federal regulations, gathering public feedback throughout the recommendation development process and taking into consideration the potential community impact of the use of CCISD facilities for nonschool activities. The guidelines also include being mindful of the district’s financial position and identifying available local, state or federal resources.
The committee charges are to:
- Develop potential options, which consider the needs of all children, for school resumption for the 2020-2021 academic year for consideration by the CCISD board of trustees;
- Consider instruction models that address challenges associated with distance learning such that high levels of academic achievement are possible even with the understanding that future calendar disruptions are also possible;
- Address the physical and emotional well-being of students and staff in all areas of operations, including transportation, child nutrition and extracurricular activity; and
- Mitigate the digital divide among students within the Clear Creek ISD service area.
Final recommendations to the board of trustees will be reflective of the district’s mission and values and of public feedback, district officials said. Medical professionals, county and local authorities, faith leaders, parents and district staff comprise the committee, per the finalized charges.
The committee is derived from the CCISD School Safety Committee, which was formed in 2018 following the Santa Fe High School shooting and which has adjusted committee membership to account for the current crisis, per the charges. Work will be guided by Gov. Greg Abbott’s Reopen Texas Plan and the Centers for Disease Control Guidelines for Schools.
The district is also working with a third-party national research firm to develop and analyze the community’s feelings about how CCISD performed this spring with distance learning, Polsen said via email. Feedback will be gathered on general performance, what support is needed to help families in the event of a future disruption and perceptions about returning to school in August. This data will be provided to the Safely Reopen CCISD committee and the CCISD board of trustees to aid in the decision-making process, she said.
All committee meetings will be held virtually through Microsoft Teams, and minutes will be available for the public following each meeting.