The board of trustees approved the date change during a July 28 meeting in a 6-1 vote, a move which will allow for more preparation time as students and teachers navigate a mix of virtual and in-person learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“What I do see with the later start date on Aug. 31 and the phase-in after, is it still allows us time to adjust later,” PISD Superintendent John Kelly said. “As we get closer to that Aug. 31 start date, we’ll have a bigger picture of the degree to which a phase-in or continued remote-only environment should exist.”
The board also approved adding 20 minutes to the school day, which will reduce the number of additional days needed with the later start date, according to board materials. After hearing from a panel of Pearland-area medical health experts, board members also discussed determining metrics and data points, such as the local testing positivity rate, the district can track to determine when it may be safe to move to the next re-opening phase.
Additionally, if any future adjustments or delays are needed regarding the school start date, the superintendent has the ability to make those changes, Kelly said.
Although it was not voted on by the board, district officials also discussed and proposed a four-week phase-in plan for those families who select in-person learning. The proposed plan, as included in the district’s board materials, would run from Aug. 31-Sept. 25. However, Kelly said the plan is made to be agile and adjustable.
The proposed phase-in plan from the administration as of July 28 is below:
Week 1: one-fourth of the students attend campus by alpha split Monday-Thursday:
Week 2: one-fourth of the students attend campus by alpha split Tuesday-Thursday
Monday: Labor Day holiday
Week 3: half of the students attend campus by alpha split Monday-Thursday
Week 4: half of the students attend campus by alpha split Monday-Thursday
More proposed information can be found here in the district’s agenda meeting notes on page 5.
During the meeting the board also hosted a panel of local medical specialists to answer questions from trustees and provide insight regarding returning to school. Questions ranged from the social/emotional implications of delaying a return to in-person learning to what data points or metrics are important to consider for re-opening schools.
The district has detailed health and safety information for on-campus learning and other information for its back to school choices on its website for the public, including plans for face coverings and student and staff health protocols.