Spring ISD Superintendent Rodney Watson announced the launch of the the district's Empowered Learning At-home website, which includes extended learning resources for students in grades pre-K-12 as well as for students with special needs, in a video March 22.
The website includes sample daily schedules for parents and students to follow, as well as weekly non-digital activity plans and digital resources for families with access to technology. Materials in Spanish are forthcoming, Watson said.
"My first goal with this strategy is to protect our students, staff and families as much as possible," Watson said in the video. "My second goal is to try to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our school district operations so we can graduate the class of 2020 this spring and help all students continue their academic journeys."
Watson encouraged parents to have their students read daily and practice writing by keeping a journal or sending a letter or email to a friend.
"We also understand that many parents are working and might be finding it difficult to juggle everything, especially amidst so much change," Watson said. "Let me just say that we understand the challenges and we want Empowered Learning At-home to provide options and strategies in the short-term. We are also keeping our approach pretty simple for the moment because we don't want to overwhelm students or teachers right now."
Watson added district officials are working with teachers to provide more structured learning opportunities in the near future.
Additionally, to better understand how the district's ongoing curbside meal service is working, and to gauge the number of SISD families without internet or computer access, the district sent out a Family Needs Survey on March 22. Families can complete the survey, which is available in both English and Spanish, by clicking here.
Updated March 20 at 4:09 p.m.
Spring ISD will be allowing staff, students and parents brief access to school campuses to pick up necessary materials on Saturday, March 21 from 9-11 a.m. The opening gives SISD teachers, students and parents or guardians the opportunity to pick up necessary equipment such as laptops or other teaching materials, musical instruments or student medication.
During the opening, the district will only allow 10 people to enter the building at a time and enforce a six-feet social distancing rule.
Updated March 16 at 5:49 p.m.
Spring ISD will be extending its closure of all schools and offices by another three weeks, the district announced March 16.
According to the announcement, the decision to extend the closure through April 10 is in support of city and county measures to combat the spread of coronavirus by promoting social distancing. Additionally, the district is continuing to work on plans to serve students and faculty remotely, with more information to come.
Updated March 12 at 4:44 p.m.
In hopes of minimizing the spread of the novel coronavirus in the local community, Spring ISD announced the closure of all SISD schools and offices next week, March 16-20. Additionally, all after-school activities, field trips, nonacademic events and large gatherings have been canceled until further notice, the March 12 release states.
According to the statement, while SISD currently has no confirmed cases of students or staff who have tested positive for coronavirus, the SISD Health Services Department will be placing several employees who traveled to an area near Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Level 3 Travel Notice Areas on a 14-day self quarantine.
"Our Health Services Department will work directly with campus leaders and department heads to monitor the status and health of this small group of employees," SISD Superintendent Rodney Watson said in a statement. "Only when our health services department has given them an all clear will these employees be allowed to return to work."
Watson added during the week off, key district personnel will be planning next steps for safe and secure operations of all 40 SISD campuses and will be working in coordination with other Houston-area leaders and health officials to evaluate the need to extend the planned days of closures. Watson said an update will be provided no later than March 20.
"Our entire community must do everything possible to help reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus to those in our community who are at increased risk," Watson said in a statement. "We—the Spring ISD community—have faced challenges and crises before, most having to do with weather events. Just like with Hurricane Harvey, our community is one that stands strong when we stand together."
Additionally, SISD announced the district will be offering free curbside, take-home meals during the extended spring break. Families will be able to pick up their meals at select SISD campuses between 8-11 a.m. throughout the week, however the district is expected to release more detailed information on the meal service over the next few days.
Posted March 12 at 10:54 a.m.
In the midst of spring break, Spring ISD officials are continuing to monitor student and staff travel while deep cleaning district facilities in response to the global coronavirus pandemic, according to a March 11 statement from Superintendent Rodney Watson.
According to Watson, SISD officials are closely monitoring the coronavirus situation and will continue to be in regular contact with local and state health officials, Houston-area authorities and the Texas Education Agency. Watson said the district is taking active steps to be prepared as classes are planned to resume March 16.
“All Spring ISD campuses and facilities are undergoing extensive deep cleanings with hospital-grade products over the holiday break,” Watson said in a statement. “While cleanings over school breaks are standard practice, our operations team is taking extra steps and precautions this week to ensure all district buildings are thoroughly disinfected.”
In addition to cleaning, SISD’s Health Services Department is also monitoring the travel registry that was established to collect information from students and staff traveling outside of Texas.
“At present, we are not aware of any student or staff who have traveled to a country that has been issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Watson said in the statement. “Currently, there are four countries with CDC Level 3 Travel health Notices—China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. As the spread of coronavirus evolves, we will watch for possible CDC travel updates that will need to be cross-references against the travel registry.”
Students and staff who have traveled outside of Texas over spring break can register their travel by clicking here.
Watson said as the district approaches its planned return to school March 16, he will continue to update students and staff via SISD’s coronavirus webpage.
“We fully recognize everyone’s growing concerns and are following all the recommendations and guidance being provided to us,” Watson said in the statement. “We understand each family may have unique concerns about [coronavirus], due to health or other circumstances. While we are taking necessary measures to assist public health officials in their goal of containing the virus, we also stand ready to support the unique needs of each community member as best we can.”