While schools are closed in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, many districts have been turning to remote instruction to continue teaching students. On Monday, March 23, Friendswood ISD had its first day of virtual instruction for students.

At the special meeting of the board of trustees that evening, Superintendent Thad Roher commended the district employees who worked to get remote instruction up and running on their quick work.

“If I would have in May, stopped during convocation and told everyone, 'I’d like for you to be ready in August to go completely online,' we never would have thought it was enough time,” Roher said. “This team has done it in a week, and I’d like to say how grateful I am about how they’ve stepped up."

Diane Myers, the assistant superintendent of secondary curriculum and instruction, and Lauren Ambeau, the executive director of elementary teaching and learning, spoke to the board about the emphasis being placed on maintaining a connection between teachers and students.

Myers said teachers have been calling the families of their students over the last week, maintaining their bond with the student but also making sure that the children and families had the tools they needed to successfully transition to virtual classes.

Ambeau mentioned the importance of recognizing the difficulties teachers may face now that many are home with their own children and balancing that with a full-time teaching job.

“Our priority when moving to remote was balancing the needs of all our stakeholders into something reasonable and realistic,” Ambeau said. “We really want to listen to the feedback that is going to come in now that we have some true assignments and instruction."

Types of assignments and grading will vary widely among the different grades, but typically there will be a weekly work submission that will be turned in to the teacher.

Roher said there has been minimal guidance from the Texas Education Agency in terms of documentation and grading for the virtual instruction.

Assignments serve two purposes, Myers said: They drive kids and keep contact with families, and they prove the district continued instructions after the campuses closed.

“When we sat down to figure out how this was going to work, we knew that at the end of nine weeks we would need to be able to say if a child passes a grade, what that looks like and how we judge that,” Ambeau said. “What you see in the plans is us trying to honor the growing pains for teachers and students in this system but keeping it flexible enough that we can pivot with new TEA guidance.”