Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge schools continue to offer instruction, meals throughout shutdown

Breckenridge schools continue to offer instruction, meals throughout shutdown
March 24
15:42 2020

Following an impassioned speech by Stephens County Judge Michael Roach, the Breckenridge Independent School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously during their meeting earlier this month to allow the superintendent to change the school calendar during the coronavirus threat.

Roach repeated the message he has shared at other meetings recently: the potential damage from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, makes it worthwhile to take aggressive actions to try and slow its spread.

“It’s going to affect our community, no doubt about it,” Roach told the board. “It’s not a matter of if; this is not pie in the sky; this is not speculation; this is not medical voodoo. I’m telling you, it’s happening.”

Based on the information provided by Roach and Interim BISD Superintendent Earl Jarrett, the board members agreed that the best course of action would be to close the schools for an additional two weeks, in addition to the one-week Spring Break extension that had already been granted.

The day after the meeting, Jarrett issued a letter, announcing that the schools would be closed through Friday, April 3. He will re-evaluate the situation as needed. On March 19, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order temporarily closing schools, limiting social gatherings to 10 people, prohibiting eating and drinking at restaurants and bars while still allowing takeout, closing gyms, and banning people from visiting nursing homes except for critical care. The governor’s order will be effective through April 3, as well.

Additionally, the governor has eliminated STAAR test requirements this year and will allow local school districts to decide who graduates and/or is promoted to the next grade.

Continued instruction

However, just because the schools are closed due to the threat of coronavirus, doesn’t mean that the district doesn’t have to provide instruction to the students, Jarrett said. The teachers and administrators have been working last week and this week to create and provide take-home lessons for the students.

The school district will be offering an instructional strategy referred to as “Blended and Home-based Learning.” The older students — junior high, high school and some of the older elementary students – are receiving their instruction online and are using their own computers and/or Chromebooks from the schools.

The district is working on solutions to help students who don’t have access to the internet at home. There is a “Home Internet Access Survey” online that parents can fill out to let the school know they need assistance; additionally, they can call 254-522-9629 and leave contact information in a voicemail.

Younger students will receive printed packets of instructional materials. Each school has been providing the information to the students. If you or someone you know has not picked up instructional materials for a student, call the student’s school for more information.

Special instruction

Additionally, Jarrett explained on today, Tuesday, March 24, that there are some students who receive modified instruction for specific disabilities that are being offered specialized services at the schools.

“Some of them receive unique and special services,” he said. “And, to prevent them from losing their specialized instruction that is available only in one-on-one sessions with a teacher, we are allowing those students to go to the schools during this time.”

Jarrett said the special instruction is not required and students can decline to participate if they do not want to go to the school during the coronavirus threat. However, he said, for the students who do choose to attend the classes, the schools are practicing the recommended social distancing and the classrooms are cleaned regularly.

The program is being offered to only a few students who are about to exit the program, he said. “This is an attempt to provide the special services to the students; they are not required to go,” Jarrett explained. “We’re trying to keep them from falling behind.”

The topic was discussed by BISD administrators, and they all agreed that the program is too specific and too scripted to offer online or by video; therefore, the limited in-person instruction is the only choice, Jarrett said.

Continued paychecks

Another issue that the school district has to deal with due to the closure is paying the non-salaried staff members.

“Through some hurricanes and other catastrophes and emergencies that have happened in the past, it’s pretty much become common practice in the state of Texas to pay those employees,” Jarrett said. “If they can’t be at work, you don’t want to lose all those employees.”

As part of the resolution the trustees approved at the board meeting, each non-salaried employee will receive their regular pay throughout the closure. Those who must work will be paid time-and-a-half for the hours that they work.

Meals for students

Throughout the school closure, BISD will continue to provide breakfasts and lunches to students. All students age 18 and younger may pick up a free breakfast and lunch at their schools.

Starting today, Tuesday, March 24, the district will hand out the meals once a day, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., sending each child home with that day’s lunch and the next morning’s breakfast. On Fridays, they will send home six meals per child: three will be for breakfast and three will be for lunch over the weekend. That will provide lunch for Friday, breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday and breakfast on Monday.

Click the following link for a map showing where to pick up meals at each school. Note that the map shows the original breakfast pick-up time; that time is no longer offered. As mentioned above, both lunch and the next morning’s breakfast will be handed out from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. each weekday. BISD Meal Pick-up Map

More information

As acknowledged by everyone dealing with the efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19, the situation is constantly changing. So, the school district has set up a page on their website dedicated to school-related information about the situation: BISD Coronavirus Update Page

Additionally, all of the schools and the district have Facebook pages, and a special email address has been set up where parents can send questions: questions@breckenridgeisd.org.

For more local news regarding the coronavirus situation, check out the Breckenridge Texan’s Coronavirus News page.

 

Story by Carla McKeown and Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

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