Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge ISD creates new plan for 2020-2021 school year

Breckenridge ISD creates new plan for 2020-2021 school year
July 28
18:40 2020

Breckenridge Independent School District administrators released the official plan for the 2020-2021 school year this morning, following a full day of finalizing the details and a special Board of Trustees meeting on Monday.

BISD Superintendent Bryan Allen discussed the plan with the board members Monday night, explaining that several families in the district have been waiting on the plan to decide whether their children will attend school in-person or via remote learning.

“There’s not a one-size fits all approach to reopening schools, so what we do may look a little bit different than Eastland or Cisco or Albany,” Allen said, adding that the BISD plan follows all of the Texas Education Agency guidelines and also includes some items tailored for the Breckenridge community. “We’re trying to do the best for what our community and our kiddos fit into, and I know all the other districts around are doing the same thing.”

The plan includes links to TEA guidance for public health planning and attendance/enrollment, as well as to UIL guidelines for extracurricular activities.

“We are planning on providing face-to-face instruction beginning on August 19, but we will have a digital, remote option, as well, for anybody who is uncomfortable coming to school face-to-face at this time,” Allen said.

Some of the highlights of the plan are detailed below.

Slightly longer school days

Students attending East and South Elementary Schools will be in school 15 minutes more each day than they were last year, based on the new plan. Each school day will be 465 minutes, rather than 450 minutes, as it had been previously.

The Texas Education Code requires that school districts operate for at least 75,600 minutes per school year. Based on 420 minutes a day, that equals the 180 days of school that were required prior to the change in 2015.

“What (adding the extra minutes) does over the course of the year, it allows us to put 14 days in the bank that we can actually be out of school and we would still get the required number of minutes,” Allen said. “We had three days built in previously, so the 14 additional gives us 17 total.”

The extra days can be used if the school district has to temporarily shut down for any reason, including weather or widespread illness, such as the flu or COVID-19 in the community.

“What our plan would be if we did have to close school, we would try to get everybody in a remote session, so we could still get funding for those days,” he said. “But, if we had to, we could just shut the whole thing down, and we would have some leeway there to be able to get our ducks in a row, if we needed a couple of days to get laptops out…we would have some flexibility.”

Breckenridge Junior High School and High School already had extra minutes built into their days, so they didn’t have to add any minutes.

The following schedules are planned for the new year:

CampusFirst BellDismissal Bell
Breckenridge High School 8:05 a.m.3:53 p.m.
Breckenridge Junior High School 8:05 a.m.3:53 p.m.
South Elementary8:00 a.m.3:45 p.m.
East Elementary7:45 a.m.3:30 p.m.

Instructional Efforts/Goals

The plan also includes the following list of instructional efforts and goals for the school year.

  • Developing blended learning instructional models that support both in-person and remote learning. “That will allow our teachers not to have double duty,” Allen said. “We’re going to design this blended learning curriculum so that what they’re doing in the classroom and what they’re doing at home looks, if not identical, looks very similar. That way, the teacher is just having to create one lesson, as opposed to two.”
  • Providing a Chromebook or tablet for all students. “Through some federal funding and some state instructional materials money, we’re going to work towards providing a Chromebook or tablet for each student,” Allen said. “That’s our goal, and hopefully we can get there this year. That is going to be what allows us to implement that blended learning environment, because that really doesn’t work if everybody doesn’t have their own device.”
  • Working to provide temporary broadband internet access solutions and options. “We can’t put internet in every household, but we do think we can provide some hotspots and some areas around town that would provide an option for people to go to, rather than coming to school (for internet service),” he said.
  • Working on facilitating an improved communications hub between the school and home.

Increased Health/Safety Efforts

Since the driving force behind the new plan for BISD is the coronavirus pandemic and the need to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, the plan includes a list of increased health and safety efforts that the district will be following.

BISD Board Member Paul Lippe listens to a discussion about the upcoming school year during Monday night’s meeting. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

For example, district administrators will be working with Stephens County officials to monitor the local COVID-19 situation, hand sanitizer stations will located at all facility entrances, and hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray will be available for all classrooms.

Additionally, the district is getting new misters that can be used to spray a safe disinfectant in all classrooms and other facilities, as well as buses, locker rooms, etc. “You put the cleaning agent into (the misters), and it puts out a fog that through some sort of electro-chemical process allows that mist to conform and stick on surfaces – electrostatic fogging is what it’s called,” Allen said. “We’ll have those available on every campus, at the bus barn to use after each route, and at the athletic facilities, band hall, ag shop, all of our high-traffic areas that we use on a daily basis.”

Initially, the district will not be taking the temperatures of all students, but students and employees will be expected to conduct a self-screening before coming to school each day. Staff members will be required to take their own temperature at home and call in to their supervisor if they have a temperature of 100 degrees or higher. However, the district will be taking the temperatures of all visitors to the campuses.

If the situation in BISD or Breckenridge changes drastically with cases on the campus or many more cases in the community, the district may change the requirements for masks and/or temperature screenings.

Allen said it will be even more important for parents to keep sick children at home. If, once a student is at school, they are determined to have a fever, parents will be required to pick up the child immediately.  “It’s not acceptable at any time, but during this pandemic, it’s certainly not acceptable to send a sick kid to school,” he said.

Another precaution the schools will be taking to help stop the spread of COVID-19 will be limiting visitors to the schools. “Obviously, if you’re coming to sign (a student) out, you need to come up there, but just visits to eat lunch and breakfast, we’re going to ask that (parents) don’t do that for the time being,” Allen said. “We just need to try and keep visitors on campus down to a very minimum.”

In addition to a brief list of health and safety efforts, the plan has multiple pages of details on COVID-19 prevention information, response and mitigation protocols and a Frequently Asked Questions section that addresses many concerns from the community.

Masks/Face Shields

During Monday’s board meeting, Allen said that a discussion among administrators earlier in the day had led to a decision that staff members will be required to wear some type of face shield.

Students will be under Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders; therefore, if the local number of current/active COVID-19 cases is under 20, students will not be required to wear a mask or face shield in the schools, Allen said. However, masks may be required in some circumstances, based on UIL or other rules and based on specific situations, including crowded bus routes.

BISD highly recommends masks for everyone age 11 and older.

Enrollment and Attendance

The new plan for BISD includes specific requirements for students’ school enrollment and then their attendance.

All students will need to register for the school year through the Skyward Family Access system. Parents have until Aug. 5 to choose either on-campus or online, remote learning. If that choice is not made by Aug. 5, students will be placed in the on-campus option.

BISD is asking parents to indicate their choice by clicking here and completing the survey and then by indicating their choice during the registration process. Once a student is enrolled in either the in-classroom or the remote learning option, they must stay with that option through the end of the six-week grading period. If a student wants to change instructional models, parents must inform the campus of the student’s intent to change instructional models by the deadlines listed in the plan, which is usually about two weeks before the beginning of the next six weeks.

Allen said that by Monday evening, the school district had received 566 responses to the survey, and about 18 percent of the respondents were choosing the “remote learning” option.

Attendance will be taken for all students, regardless of whether they choose in-classroom instruction or remote learning. That is a change from the way it was handled in the spring semester when all students were following the remote learning plan.

Students are required to show some sort of progress each day in order to be counted as present. However, BISD doesn’t have a system in place that will automatically track how many minutes or hours each student in engaged in coursework, Allen said. So, that leaves a couple of ways for students to show progress, including checking in with the teacher via a phone call or online interaction to allow the teacher to gauge the progress on the lesson for the day. Another way is for the student to turn in an assignment every day.

In the spring, some students did all of their weekly assignments in one day and then had the rest of the week free from school work, but that won’t work this year, Allen said. “You’re only counted (present) on the day that you’re engaged,” he said. “… if you’re in remote learning, you have to spend a certain amount of time every day engaged in the lesson. And, at the secondary level, it’s even more important, not only to be engaged in a lesson, but in each course, you need to be involved in the lesson.”

Meals

In addition to all of the other precautions, BISD has a special section of the new plan dedicated to meals and food service. A couple of changes that will be implemented this year are that there will be no parents/visitors during lunch, until further notice, and meals may not be delivered during the school day by the parent/guardian to the school office. Students are welcome to bring a lunch from home prior to the school day beginning. Students who forget to bring a lunch will be offered a meal in the cafeteria.

There may be other adjustments to procedures at each individual campus during meal times, to keep the students as safe as possible.

Also at Monday night’s meeting, the Board of Trustees approved a plan to raise the cost of all meals, except for reduced-price plans, by 5 cents per meal. The increase is due to the reimbursement rates from the government. Breakfast will continue to be served free of charge at the elementary schools; it will cost $2.10 for junior high and high school students and $2.55 for staff and adults. Reduced rate breakfasts will cost 30 cents at the junior high and high school. Lunch will cost $3.10 at the elementary schools, $3.20 at the junior high and high school, and $3.75 for staff and adults. Reduced rate lunches will continue to cost 40 cents at all campuses.

Extracurricular activities

As Allen mentioned at last week’s Stephens County COVID-19 Update, school administrators had already decided that students who choose the remote learning option and do not attend in-person classes will not be eligible to participate in extracurricular activities, practices or performances during the grading period that they are remote-learning.

At Monday’s meeting, that requirement was clarified and offered added support with a resolution approved by the Board of Trustees.

“The biggest part of that reasoning, in my opinion, is if we’re worried about coming to class on a daily basis, I think those same worries should pour over into a student council meeting or a football practice or a volleyball practice,” Allen said.

The approved resolution prohibits remote-learning students from participating in contests and practices outside the school day but allows them to be enrolled in a corresponding class period, such as an athletics class. “That way, if they did choose to come back (to in-person learning) mid-semester, we wouldn’t have to do a lot of administrative schedule changing and grade transferring and whatnot,” Allen explained. “It would make it a lot easier to transition those kids from off-campus to on-campus. I think this works best for our kids and our adults on campus.”

In order for that concept to work, teachers and coaches will have to come up with something for the students to do remotely. For example, Allen said, in an athletics class, a remote-learning student may be assigned to run a mile on their own. In band, students might be required to record themselves playing a piece of music and submit that to the teacher.

“I think our folks are going to have to get creative, because we’re going to have to have something there to give them a grade if they’re going to be included in that class,” Allen said.

The resolution does not apply to Honors Classes; those classes will be offered remotely. Additionally, some classes may have on-campus requirements for special activities, even for remote learners. For those classes, if a student wants to take the class, he or she will have to agree to visit the campus for the special activities.

The Plan

To download a pdf copy of the BISD 2020-2021 Plan, click the following link: 2020-2021 Plan

The plan is also available online at:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1M3g5Wbi-w9KEp86JAGJ9zyHOlmy8l4Qxa6ua2-j4ook/edit?usp=sharing

The online version will automatically be updated as necessary throughout the school year.

 

Story by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Breckenridge Independent School District Board President Graham Reaugh, Superintendent Bryan Allen and Board member Ardes Johnson discuss the upcoming school year during Monday night’s special board meeting. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


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