WATCH or READ: Checking In with Charles (11/5/2020)
Updates on Planning for the Spring Semester
I’m coming to you today with an important update regarding our planning for the spring semester, and the immediate action we are asking of families who want to change learning models in January. Your timely action is necessary to enable us to best support our students and staff as we transition to the next grading period.
We know that running two learning models – online and face-to-face, has been a challenge, and over the last few weeks, we’ve been working diligently to develop a planning timeline that will help us build student schedules before the winter break.
Action Required for Students who Wish to Change their Learning Model
Beginning today, and through November 12, parents who would like to request a change in their child’s current learning model must complete a learning model change request form in Skyward Family Access. This form only needs to be completed if a change is requested. If a student is staying in their current learning model, no action is required.
It is also important that our families understand that late requests completed after November 12 will be added to a waitlist for further consideration in January, after Term 3 schedules are set and the new term is underway.
Throughout this process, our top priority will be to minimize schedule changes and teacher assignments; however, based on the number of requested changes, we do expect there could be additional transitions for some students and teachers.
Starting November 13, campuses will go about the work of building schedules for students that requested a change. Based on the number received at each campus, other students might also be affected as they build sections of courses and move more teachers from the online learning environment to a face-to-face classroom.
Analyzing Capacity on Campuses to Maintain Social Distancing
At this time, we are carefully analyzing capacity at each campus to determine the maximum number of students that are able to return to face-to-face instruction with social distancing measures in effect in classrooms and common areas.
Following this analysis, if a campus reaches maximum capacity, campuses will have procedures in place to support keeping students at their home campuses, which may include reallocating spaces within the school, reconfiguring classrooms and partitioning larger common areas and flex spaces. We understand the connection students and families have with their home campus and want to maintain as much stability as possible for our students and staff.
If a campus cannot accommodate the number of students wishing to return to face-to-face instruction, a process is in place to confirm the order in which the learning model change request form was submitted, along with a review of student programming. If a campus is unable to accommodate a change in the learning model at their campus, they will communicate with families about their options prior to the winter break. Options might include a transfer to another school or remaining in the online learning environment.
Learning from our Experiences
Over the last few months, FBISD has been intentional in our efforts to seek feedback so that we can reflect, learn from our past experiences, and improve our systems and support structures for all stakeholders. We’ve used this feedback to develop our timeline and plan moving forward.
We also carefully reviewed specific feedback regarding the possibility of aligning the face-to-face and online schedules, and, at the elementary level, the synchronous schedule for online students.
Ultimately, at the secondary level, the consequences of attempting to align the schedules in January outweigh the benefits. Specifically, shifting to aligned schedules would require additional schedule changes for a significant number of students and teachers, and principals and counselors expressed concern about the amount of time and effort required to hand schedule all students for a second time. Therefore, to support the most stable student experience, we will not align schedules at this time.
At the elementary level, we are considering a slight change in the online schedule to increase synchronous learning time in ELA and mathematics. This is in direct response to our teacher and leader feedback about the need for more instructional time in these areas.
Limited Changes to Health and Safety Guidelines
Be assured that as our campus administrators develop schedules, they will continue to implement health and safety guidelines that are included in the updated fall 2020 back to school plan. Based on principal and teacher feedback, we have made only limited revisions to our health and safety protocols based on the guidelines from the CDC and TEA, as well as our medical advisory committee members.
These revisions include:
Removing references to a fixed square footage per student and instead using guidance from the CDC and the TEA that calls for appropriate social distancing of six feet when possible.
We are also updating language regarding transportation to reference that we will continue to adhere to social distancing on buses to the greatest extent possible; however, if there is an increase in students returning face-to-face, the need may arise to load buses with two students per seat.
And, for the safety and well-being of our staff, students and community, we are continuing the use of masks for those two years and older as recommended by the CDC.
Focused on our Mission
You can find the latest information on the FBISD Relaunch webpage, and we will share more about our Term 3 planning with our Board of Trustees during Monday’s Board Workshop. At that time, we will also engage in discussions about possible adjustments to the spring semester calendar.
We continue to keep our students at the forefront of all planning and will keep you updated as there is more information to share.
While COVID-19 has affected us in many ways, one thing remains unchanged. FBISD continues to be focused on our District’s mission to inspire and equip all students for futures beyond what they can imagine.