Fort Bend ISD superintendent discusses how coronavirus may affect the 2020-21 school year

Fort Bend ISD staff continues to provide coronavirus-related updates at each board of trustees meeting. (Community Impact Newspaper)
Fort Bend ISD staff continues to provide coronavirus-related updates at each board of trustees meeting. (Community Impact Newspaper)

Fort Bend ISD staff continues to provide coronavirus-related updates at each board of trustees meeting. (Community Impact Newspaper)

Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Charles Dupre and district staff presented the district’s continued response to the coronavirus pandemic to the board of trustees at a May 4 meeting.

“There’s not a lot of new decisions being made, but we are starting to look toward developing decisions for next year and beyond,” Dupre said to the board.

While district administrators have not made any final decisions yet about school next year, Dupre said the district is planning for three possible scenarios:
a) all students return in August for in-person classes as normal;

b) schools remain closed and learning is primarily online; and

c) a hybrid of in-person and online classes.

Dupre said in planning for each scenario, district staff will take into account the invention programs needed to close gaps in learning, scheduling efforts and grading policies.

“We are in the planning-to-plan stage,” Dupre said. We do not have details.”

He said some parents in the community have said that even if concerns of the coronavirus subside, they may feel uncomfortable sending their children to a school full of other students.

“I think regardless of our best efforts, we are going to have to continue some form of online instruction, it's just going to be a matter of how many students and what format that is going to take,” Dupre said.

As the coronavirus pandemic evolves and the district receives more guidance from the medical community and from state and local officials, Dupre said he hopes the district will get a clearer picture of which plan they will need to implement.

“My money today is on plan C—the hybrid plan—but you never know,” Dupre said. “So, we are going to be prepared, as we have been, to make strong, local decisions that serve the best interest of our students and our community.”

Dupre said plan C may involve students being in school two or three days a week and at home two or three days a week in order to comply with social distancing guidelines and potential class size limitations that the state may enforce.

Regardless of which plan the district ends up implementing, Dupre said it will be dealing with learning gaps and student intervention programs for the majority of next year.

“At the end of this year, what’s going to happen is teachers will work with campus administrators to develop an individualized plan for each student. Some students will be retained; most, we expect, will be promoted to the next level. But we also believe many students will have some sort of intervention plan.”

Dupre said parents can expect formal communication from their student’s campus regarding their student’s progress at the end of this school year.

As part of the coronavirus update provided May 4, the district said the extended learning program would reopen on three campuses starting May 6 for parents who need to return to work. To accommodate social distancing, Dupre said the student-to-teacher ratio will be lower than usual for this program. The program will expand to other campuses based on demand.

Dupre said district staff will continue to update the board and community about school operations during the coronavirus pandemic at board meetings.

Members of the public can listen to a recording of the full May 4 board of trustees meeting here.
By Claire Shoop

Reporter, Northwest Austin

Claire joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2019 as the reporter for the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition and in December 2021 moved to Austin to become the reporter for the Northwest Austin edition. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2019 where she studied journalism, government and Arabic. While in school, Claire was a fellow for The Texas Tribune, worked for the student newspaper, The Daily Texan, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C. She enjoys playing cards with her family and listening to the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.