Clear Creek ISD administrators discuss gifted and talented, special education programming for 2020-21

CCISD will provide weekly updates until the start of the school year on reopening plans amid COVID-19. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
CCISD will provide weekly updates until the start of the school year on reopening plans amid COVID-19. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

CCISD will provide weekly updates until the start of the school year on reopening plans amid COVID-19. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Clear Creek ISD administrators gave updates and answered questions from parents related to gifted and talented programming as well as special education services during livestream events July 15.

Glenda Holder, the executive director of the gifted and talented program, was joined by Chief Communications Officer Elaina Polsen and Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Holly Hughes at the first livestream event. Administrators said that they are committed to meeting the unique social, emotional and intellectual needs of the district’s gifted and talented students, including providing intellectually challenging experiences through as many avenues as possible.

“We assure you that what is right, and what we believe gifted and talented students need, is at the center of everything that we’re building,” Holder said.

Gifted and talented, or GT, programming will continue regardless of mode of instruction during the 2020-21 academic year, Holder said. This includes the intermediate-level WAVE and science magnet programs, which will be offered through Clear Connections. The programming will be adhered to support students between CCISD modes of instruction, according to slides presented during the livestream.

Student input will factor into which GT mini-courses are offered, Holder said. The goals of the program and the mini-courses remain the same: to encourage exploration with students.


“We want those experiences to do that, to enrich and allow students to explore a topic ... that they aren’t sure about,” Holder said.

Administrators added that they are working to structure the school day for all students so that they still have time to socialize, regardless of their learning environment. GT students can connect with each other through Clear Connections by interacting with their peers through platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Holder said.

Course selections began at 1 p.m. July 15 for the high school students choosing Clear Connections. Administrators encouraged students and families to make their decisions about online versus in-person instruction by the end of July to allow for time to hire the appropriate staff.

Special education

Executive Director of Special Services Michele Staley joined Polsen in a separate livestream July 15 to discuss how special education students would have their needs met during the 2020-21 school year amid the coronavirus pandemic. The brick-and-mortar model, Staley said, will focus on individualized health plans for each special education student, but there are more questions than answers when it comes to how special education services will work through Clear Connections.

The district is researching virtual schools around the country and consulting with other school districts as well as attorneys about how to provide remote special education instruction, Staley said. She added that, if a service cannot be provided virtually, there will be arrangements made to send providers into the students’ homes.

“What you experienced in the spring is not what you're going to experience this fall,” Polsen said during the livestream.

Administrators are working with the district’s technology department and the principal of Clear Connections to ensure service providers are up-to-date with the latest technology in order to provide services. In the spring, not every provider was well-equipped to suddenly adapt with the emergency closure, Polsen and Staley said.

“We are going to provide those services regardless of that environment you are in,” Staley said, adding that the services provided must be decided in an admission, review and dismissal, or ARD, meeting. “I cannot say that enough: It has to be decided in an ARD.”

Still, Staley and Polsen acknowledged that ARDs can take months to complete. In the event that many special education students sign up for Clear Connections, an ARD meeting must take place legally to allow for that change in placement. ARDs will be prioritized, if necessary, based on the number and level of services a student needs.

Staley encouraged special education parents to be as patient as possible during this time but invited them to reach out to the special services department at 281-284-0750 with questions or concerns related to individual plans for their children. She and the department will be able to listen and respond, she said.

“It's really important that we get this right for your student and that we partner with you,” said Staley, who started as executive director during the same week the district went into emergency closure in mid-March. “I know you don't know me, but I am very student-centered. ... I’m here to work for you.”
By Colleen Ferguson
A native central New Yorker, Colleen Ferguson worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. Colleen graduated from Syracuse University in 2019, where she worked for the campus's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange, with a degree in Newspaper and Online Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a degree in Spanish language and culture. Colleen previously interned with The Journal News/lohud, where she covered the commute in the greater New York City area.

<

MOST RECENT

As the number of patients with COVID-19 in Harris County intensive care units continues to fall, the percentage of those patients that make up the total numbers in the ICU fall below 30% on Aug. 10. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Percentage of COVID-19 positive ICU patients falls below 30%

The percentage has been slowly falling since reaching a high point above 50% in early July, according to data from the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council. Public health officials in Harris County have said they want to see that number below 15%.

JD Sports will open a new store at The Woodlands Mall this August. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Businesses opening or coming soon in The Woodlands and more Houston-area news

Read the latest Houston-area business and community news.

A majority of Clear Creek ISD students will return to school in-person classes this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)
Clear Creek ISD delays full return to in-person instruction; group to protest at Aug. 10 board workshop

The district has extended the final phase of its back-to-school transition plan by one week, meaning some in-person students will return beginning Sept. 14 instead of Sept. 8.

Originally, the Coastal Texas Study included a proposal to build 76 miles of flood walls and levees to protect Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula from flooding during hurricanes. (Courtesy Coastal Texas Study)
Bay Area officials considering ways to locally fund Coastal Texas Study

Bay Area officials are now considering ways to fund locally what could be a $23 billion-$32 billion federal flood mitigation project.

Here are the coronavirus data updates to know in Galveston County. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Galveston County COVID-19 cases continue downward trend

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Galveston County reached 9,376 on Aug. 8, but the number of daily new cases is still trending down.

Attendees sample a wide variety of global wines and cuisine during Wine & Food Week. (Courtesy Food & Vine Time Productions)
Wine & Food Week returns to The Woodlands and more news from the Houston area

Read business and community news from the Houston area.

The number of deaths reported has been declining for the past three week, according to the Texas Medical Center. (Community Impact staff)
Texas Medical Center: COVID-19 hospitalizations down 10% since Aug. 3

The number of deaths reported has been declining for the past three week, according to the Texas Medical Center.

Harris County leaders discussed this week whether to raise or lower property taxes. (Courtesy Fotolia)
UPDATED: Harris Co. commissioners eyeing property tax rates

This article was updated Aug. 8 to clarify that an 8% tax rate increase is not considered to be on the table by commissioners.

A mother and daughter visit at Seasons Assisted Living & Memory Care in Conroe earlier in the pandemic. (Courtesy Seasons Assisted Living & Memory Care)
Texas allows limited visitations to nursing homes, long-term care facilities

Facilities that meet the requirements will allow limited visitations, but you still will not be able to hug or kiss your loved one.

HomeAid Houston partnered with Boys and Girls Country to open three cottages in Hockley. (Courtesy Boys and Girls Country)
Builders partner to serve homeless population through nonprofit HomeAid Houston

Since launching in 2003, the organization has helped provide 20,000 beds for homeless individuals in the Houston area.