I am writing to share several important items, including one critical action item that must be addressed by all parents during the coming week. The following updates regarding the launch of the 2020-21 school year were discussed during last night’s meeting with the FBISD Board of Trustees.
You can view the full presentation to the Board on the FBISD website, and we will host another Checking in with Charles Live event on Wednesday, July 22 to go over the latest update with our community, but I also wanted to provide you with a quick overview.
After careful consideration of the planning underway, and in order to give our teachers time to train and prepare for the year ahead, during last night’s meeting, the Board approved minor calendar changes, with a new school start date of Monday, August 17. By pushing back the first day of online instruction, teachers will now participate in six days of professional learning and one workday (August 6-14) before the first day of school.
There are also two changes that will affect student instruction:
Friday, September 25 will be a regular school day instead of the traditional Fort Bend County Fair Day. If the fair is held as scheduled, we will be able to schedule the day as an asynchronous learning day for all students and staff to allow participation in the usual fair activities.
Friday, October 9 will be a regular school day instead of the adopted staff professional learning day and student holiday.
During the Board meeting, I shared that at this time, we are planning to deliver online-only instruction (again, with limited exceptions) for at least four weeks, and we will continue to consult with a COVID-19 Advisory group and local health officials to determine when it will be appropriate to begin face-to-face instruction.
Teaching and Learning
During back to school professional learning and planning meetings, teachers will spend time learning to use technology tools, assessing student work and providing feedback in the virtual environment. Principals will share plans for monitoring student progress and effectiveness of instructional delivery.
Parents and students are expecting a rigorous learning experience this fall, and rightfully so. Students lost nine weeks of rigorous instruction in the spring and it is our responsibility to make sure they continue to progress during the coming year. This means we must use strong, effective original instruction and thoughtful, data-informed student interventions. There will be many differences between what instruction looked like during our spring closure and what our instructional expectations are for this fall. Notably, we will have clearly defined systems and protocols in place to support equity for all students. We will also provide social emotional supports to help students grow and thrive during this unprecedented season.
Daily, synchronous learning will be the foundation of our instructional program. Teachers and students will have a full daily schedule of teaching and learning. During Monday’s Board Meeting, we shared several model daily schedules for teachers and students. I want to make sure you know that these models were built to demonstrate the possibilities. Schedules will look differently from school to school based on many unique factors.
Learning Centers and Childcare Options
We have also introduced a new model for student and staff support during the pandemic. At a number of sites in the District, we will open Learning Centers where identified students can come to learn each day. Learning Center campuses will be configured with student work stations that are socially distanced where students can spend their day participating in the same online learning model as their peers at home.
Students at Learning Centers will have lunch and snack breaks, movement/brain breaks, and teacher assistance as needed. Their learning will be monitored by a professional or paraprofessional staff member – but teachers will not be monitoring the Learning Centers. Teachers will be teaching the online curriculum to all students they serve. The monitors might be staff currently performing a different job, such as a classroom aide, extended learning staff, or, perhaps, a well-qualified bus driver not currently driving routes. They will be trained and monitored by campus administration.
Action Required: Online Enrollment Verification Process begins Wednesday, July 22 at 9 p.m.
Each fall, parents complete an online enrollment verification for each student attending FBISD schools. This year, due to the level of planning required to begin online learning, we will complete this process earlier than usual. Along with the usual verification forms, during this year’s process, parents will fill out a Back to School Readiness Form to indicate if they have needs associated with internet connectivity, childcare, and/or transportation. We will attempt to help families resolve needs in several ways, including distribution of technology equipment or providing a limited number of students an opportunity to learn at one of the Learning Centers mentioned above. It is important that our families understand that we will prioritize acceptance into the Learning Centers based on availability and responses. Please know that our first priorities will be to our staff, first responders, essential medical workers and active US Military, as we do anticipate that spaces may be limited.
We are currently attempting to build partnerships with local, private childcare providers to build their capacity to monitor instructional engagement of the FBISD students in their care. We will share more information on these partnerships as this work progresses.
The full presentation to the Board will be available on the FBISD website, and we will host another Checking in with Charles Live event on Wednesday, June 22 at 7 p.m. It will be streamed at www.fortbendisd.com/CheckinginLIVE, and you can begin submitting questions in advance by visiting www.fortbendisd.com/checkinginlivequestion. Following this event, at 9 p.m., the online enrollment verification process will go live, and remain open until August 3. Parents will receive an email communication tomorrow night when the process opens, as well as information on how to complete the necessary forms.
In closing, please know that we have many, many staff members working hard to prepare for a safe and successful start to the school year. These are challenging times, but Fort Bend ISD is well prepared to support our students, staff and families.