"Traditionally, we've always taken the calendar out to our staff and our community for them to give us input," Watson said during the SISD board of trustees workshop June 4. "But I think we all would agree that this situation is quite different that previous times because paramount to our calendar's change this year is the pandemic that we're currently experiencing and all of the information that we're receiving from health officials at the local, state and national level regarding the pandemic that is going to be coming back in the fall. So to that end, I still would have recommended that we not take [the revised calendar] out [to the community] because we have to do what we have in our core values, [which] is doing what's best for kids."
Since the board unanimously approved the revised calendar May 28, Watson said he has received positive and negative feedback from SISD parents and staff. Additionally, Watson said he has followed up with each of those parents and staff members to hear their concerns and to explain the district's rationale behind the calendar revision.
"Hopefully, as our parents continue to respond to their own personal needs, [they] also take an understanding that we're having to look out for the safety not only of our students, but the safety of our employees," Watson said. "To that end, [with] any feedback that I've gotten from Elevate, I personally call each person and talk with them about my rationale and ... about all the opportunities [the new calendar] provides while also listening to their personal concerns regarding not wanting their kids to go to school that long or their summer trips or camps that they want their kids to participate in. ... I'll continue to do that moving forward."
Board President Rhonda Newhouse said she has also received feedback from the SISD community and commended Watson for addressing those comments.
"The board appreciates you reaching out to the community and to our parents concerning our calendar," Newhouse said during the meeting. "We all heard from them and know that was a concern, so I truly appreciate you taking the time to reach our parents and community concerning our desire to do what is best for our students and Spring ISD."
While SISD did not seek community feedback on the revised 2020-21 calendar, Watson said the district will be sending out a survey this week to gauge whether parents feel comfortable sending their students back to SISD campuses this fall.
"I've received emails from parents asking that their kid be allowed to stay home next year for at least the fall because they're not comfortable with their child coming back with the possibility of getting the coronavirus, and so, as I've talked to people, they're from one end of the spectrum to the other end of the spectrum. And so I believe that we've done the best thing to do what's best for kids and our staff in recommending the calendar that you all subsequently approved," Watson said.