WATCH or READ: Checking In with Charles (11/10/20)
Today’s Check In includes an important reminder about the ongoing window to change a student’s learning model for the spring, as well as information about the revised instructional calendar that was approved during Monday’s Board meeting.
But I want to begin as we always do, recognizing our amazing students and staff! Monday’s meeting began with honors for the Sartartia Middle School Honor Orchestra for being selected to perform at the Texas Music Educators Association 2021 Annual Convention.
The Board also recognized a Clements High School teacher for being selected by the Texas Forensic Association for inclusion in the 2020-21 Hall of Fame Class. Congratulations!
Next Monday, November 16, we will recognize the contributions of three retiring trustees – Jason Burdine, Allison Drew and Kristin Tassin. At that same meeting, three new trustees will be sworn in and begin their three-year term – Angie Hanan, Dr. Shirley Gilliam and Denetta Williams. While we would typically have a community reception to honor the retiring board members, we are unable to do so at this time. So, I encourage you to watch Monday’s board meeting and send them emails to express your appreciation for their service and wish them well.
Update on Planning for Term 3
During this week’s board meeting, staff presented a comprehensive update on the planning underway for Term 3, which will begin in January. As a reminder, the Learning Model Selection process is underway right now and ends Thursday at 11:59 p.m. If you are not requesting a change for your family, no action is required. If you are, it is critical that you complete the Skyward form before the Thursday deadline. Any requests submitted 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.
Starting November 13, campuses will begin to build schedules for students who requested a change. FBISD’S top priority is to provide stability for students and teachers by minimizing changes in schedule and teacher assignments. However, based on the number of changes received at each campus, students who did not request a change might be affected due to shifts required to move additional teachers from the online learning environment to a face-to-face classroom.
During Monday’s board meeting, we also discussed the building capacity analysis that is currently underway. While FBISD will work to keep students and staff at their home campus, if a campus cannot accommodate the number of students wishing to return face-to-face, campuses will communicate with families about their options prior to winter break.
I encourage those of you who are interested to watch the full conversation with our Board of Trustees, we also held an open and honest discussion about our journey to this point, as well as the challenges that we have and continue to face. I am truly proud of our employees who are working hard each day to support our student’s instruction, and we know they are carrying a heavy load.
During the meeting, we shared an update on concerns we’ve heard from teachers and staff in recent listening sessions. As I shared last week, as a result of this feedback, we are looking seriously at extending the synchronous learning time for our younger elementary students enrolled in online learning so that they can have a more robust learning experience in the core subjects of literacy and math.
Revised Instructional Calendar
We also incorporated feedback about the need for additional planning time into our revised instructional calendar that was approved by the Board Monday. Due to the dual learning models offered during the pandemic, and because parents have the opportunity to request a change to their student’s learning model at the beginning of each grading period, the new calendar provides transitions by allowing additional time for teacher planning and preparation of our technology systems that support teaching and learning.
You can review the revised calendar on the District website, but changes include:
Three additional teacher professional learning days, one prior to Term 3 in January and two prior to Term 4 in March. These days are intended to support teacher planning and course preparation.
The new calendar also includes three transition days in March, prior to Term 4, to provide time for technology systems to process new student schedules.
The calendar also allows students to return one day later in January and provides one additional week off in March following Spring Break. This additional week off may also be used to support student intervention where a need is identified. We will share more about this opportunity in the spring semester.
While the school year will be extended slightly, by one week, so that the last day of school is June 3 and the last teacher work day is June 4, teachers will remain on a 187 day contract. They will also have time off in March unless they are supporting student intervention, and if that is the case, our plan is to compensate them for that extra work. Staff can expect additional information as we continue to finalize plans and adjust systems for the spring semester.
Before I go, I want to remind everyone about the importance of continuing to stay vigilant to prevent the spread of the illness, and to protect our students and staff, as well as the community. FBISD’s mitigation efforts include face coverings, social distancing, cleaning and wellness screenings. And while these efforts can prevent the spread at school, it’s critical that we are mindful of our actions in the community. We know that holiday breaks are right around the corner, and it’s important that we protect ourselves and others by continuing to social distance and wear face coverings when traveling, or gathering in groups.
We can protect ourselves and others by staying the course and taking simple actions in our daily routines at school and away from school.
Month of Gratitude
In FBISD, we are celebrating November as a month of gratitude. In that spirit, I want to express my sincere appreciation for your partnership on behalf of our students.