Face masks, school lunches and 5 other things Cy-Fair ISD parents should know about the 2020-21 school year

Face masks will be required in classrooms when social distancing is not feasible. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
Face masks will be required in classrooms when social distancing is not feasible. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)

Face masks will be required in classrooms when social distancing is not feasible. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)

Cy-Fair ISD officials launched the Return to School Questionnaire on July 27, allowing parents to submit their intent to either send their children back to campuses this fall or have them learn remotely during the 2020-21 school year.

The deadline to submit the questionnaire is Aug. 5, but selections can be changed until Aug. 25. Parents can make their selection in the district’s Home Access Center online.

The district has also released details about what the school year might look like online, including health and safety protocols online. See highlights of their plan below, and read the full plan here.

Community Impact Newspaper would like to hear from parents and teachers leading up to the start of the school year. Feedback submitted here may be used in upcoming print and online coverage.

1. The district will offer two learning options in the coming school year.

Traditional on-campus instruction will be available with students reporting daily to the campus and following their schedule in a face-to-face classroom setting. Alternatively, CFISD Connect is the newly improved remote learning program for district students to engage in live virtual instruction daily during school hours.

Both programs offer the same curriculum and have the same grading and attendance policies. All students will have the same opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities. Both options will also allow eligible high school students to be exempt from semester final exams.

Students who receive special services will continue to have access through in-class and remote support.

Some elective courses, such as cosmetology and welding, may require remote students to fulfill in-person course requirements to earn credit for the course. Individual teachers will determine dates and times for any applicable hands-on activities.

2. School is scheduled to start Sept. 8.

During Cy-Fair ISD’s second special-called meeting of the month July 21, the board unanimously voted to postpone the start of the 2020-21 school year from Aug. 24 to Sept. 8. This move also pushes the last day of student instruction back from May 27 to June 3.

The Texas Education Agency has mandated public school systems must offer on-campus instruction for all grades served by a campus every day for every student unless prohibited by a state or county order. Following the district’s calendar change, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an order mandating all public and nonreligious private schools remain closed for in-person instruction through at least Sept. 8.

3. Face masks will be required in certain areas on campus.

Face masks will be required by all staff and pre-K through 12th-grade students on buses, in hallways and common areas, and in classrooms when social distancing is not feasible as officials deem developmentally appropriate.

Non-medical-grade disposable face masks, cloth face coverings or face shields will be acceptable as long as the nose and mouth are covered. The district will provide face masks for staff and students if needed.

4. Social distancing will be implemented throughout campuses.

When feasible, students will be distanced from others in classrooms and common areas. Plexiglass desk shields will be on all teacher desks and students’ desks and tables when distancing is not feasible. Shared supplies will be reduced, and those that are shared will be disinfected after use.

Campuses will have their own systems for alleviating congestion in common areas, such as staggering class dismissals, creating one-way hallway traffic, holding student activities outside, and staggering the loading and unloading of buses.

5. Technology devices could be available for those who need them.

CFISD plans to receive 75,000 Lenovo Chromebooks in phases through the end of the fall semester. The district intends for all students, regardless of need, to have their own device by the end of the semester. Internet hot spots will also be available for students who do not have internet access at home.

Not only will students taking virtual classes have the resources they need, but in case campuses are forced to close or students are home sick, they can continue learning online, officials said.

6. Meals will be available to all students.

Breakfast and lunch will be served on campuses for students taking in-person classes, and curbside meals will be accessible for families to pick up one day each week. Prices in either scenario are dependent on student eligibility.

Breakfast on campus will be a grab-and-go option. For lunch, menu items will be limited, and there will be no a la carte or self-service options. Access to lines in the cafeteria will be controlled to reduce congestion, and social distancing will be maintained as much as possible.

Nutrition services staff will undergo daily health screenings. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be posted at each cafeteria entrance, and cafeterias will be disinfected after each lunch period. Lunch visitors will not be permitted at least during the first semester.

7. Students must be registered for transportation services to ride school buses.

Transportation services will be available to all students enrolled in on-campus instruction, but they must be registered by Aug. 25 to receive these services. Students must wear a face mask on buses, and disposable masks will be available to those who do not have them.

Weather permitting, windows and roof vents will be open to allow for additional ventilation.

Students must sanitize their hands upon bus entry, and drivers will disinfect seats and high-touch areas as frequently as possible. Buses will be fogged with disinfecting solution following afternoon routes.
By Danica Lloyd

Editor, Cy-Fair

Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2016. As editor, she continues to cover local government, education, health care, real estate, development, business and transportation in Cy-Fair. Her experience prior to CI includes studying at the Washington Journalism Center and interning at a startup incubator in D.C., serving as editor-in-chief of Union University's student magazine and online newspaper, reporting for The Jackson Sun and freelancing for other publications in Arkansas and Tennessee.