Fort Bend ISD staff presented a draft copy of the district’s new Pandemic Management Plan to the board of trustees during its Aug. 17 meeting. The plan will help direct the district’s decision making on how and when to open and close schools for in-person instruction.
“The goal of the Pandemic Management Plan is to ensure uninterrupted learning, including safeguarding the health and safety of students and staff, and guiding departments with transitional activities that must occur at each level,” Assistant Superintendent Carmela Levy-David said.
The plan includes various indicators that will allow FBISD to determine the risk level of individual campuses and the district as a whole. Each risk level—red, yellow or green—then corresponds with actions the district and school administration will take and inform how students receive instruction.
The Pandemic Management Plan takes into account internal data at the campus and district level and external data at the community level.
Superintendent Charles Dupre said the district would put more weight on internal district data, such as information on new positive coronavirus cases at a particular campus or in the district, student and staff absences from school, and shortages of vital school personnel. This information is collected by FBISD’s COVID-19 teams and contact tracers.
“We want to be autonomous in our decision making,” Dupre said. “We don’t want to be dependent on data that comes out of a database that serves a nine-county region. We need more specific data that address our local conditions in our schools and in our community.”
The district will also consider coronavirus case information from Fort Bend County and surrounding communities as well as the number of local COVID-19 hospitalizations.
A committee of community members and health care professionals will meet each week and assess the data related to the plan. From there the committee will advise district staff as to what risk level each campus and the district are at.
The risk level at an individual campus can differ from the overall level for the district, and the district’s status will not override that of a campus, Dupre said.
“We are not using the language of triggers or metrics or thresholds,” Dupre said. “We are going to put all of this data on the table, and every week the committee will have a discussion that is very objective in nature using this information to reach consensus about where we are as a district at that point in time.”
Once the risk level for the district and each individual campus is determined, the plan outlines how the district would handle a number of school related-activities, such as face-to-face or online instruction, extracurricular activities, health and safety protocols, travel and events.
Moving forward, district staff will work to define indicator metrics such as the number of new cases over a 14-day period or the percentage of students and teachers absent that would cause a school to pivot between risk levels. Additionally, the advisory committee will be established, and the plan will be used to determine a preliminary risk level for each campus and the district.
The FBISD board of trustees will host a meeting Aug. 31 to discuss potential timelines for transitioning back to in-person learning, the logistical needs associated with such a transition and completing a Texas Education Agency waiver to request additional weeks of online instruction.
View a draft version of the Pandemic Management Plan on slide 10 of board documents here.