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WATCH or READ: Checking In with Charles (1/20/21)

January is School Board Appreciation Month - and I want to begin this week’s Check in with a message of gratitude on behalf of Fort Bend ISD. Our trustees are elected volunteers that sacrifice hours of dedicated service for the benefit of each and every child in Fort Bend ISD. The job is arduous and requires a great deal of commitment. I know that I and the entire FBISD community are thankful for their work.

During this week’s Board meeting, we took a few moments to share our appreciation highlighted by student performances dedicated to our FBISD Trustees. Three students from Marshall High School performed creatively insightful spoken word, and three Ridge Point High School students performed a beautiful song. The Department of Fine Arts also worked with art teachers to create unique tile art for each Trustee. I appreciate the dedicated work of each of our Trustees, and their compassionate citizenship and servant leadership that will benefit Fort Bend ISD students for years to come.

The Board also recognized the Associate Principal from Lake Olympia Middle School for being selected as the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals, Assistant Principal of the Year.

While updating the Board about the District’s ongoing efforts to support student learning during COVID, I shared why the District shifted Travis High School from face-to-face to online learning this week. FBISD uses a wide range of internal and external indicators to determine the level of risk or possible disruption to campus operations for every school. In this case, data suggested a significant impact on our ability to adequately staff Travis High School, which caused an operational disruption that would prevent us from continuing face-to-face instruction at this time.

With this in mind, I feel it is important to remind our community about the role we all play in keeping our students and staff safe, and providing learning environments where they can continue to learn and grow. It is vitally important for everyone – students, parents, teachers and staff – to complete the daily Wellness Screening and follow the established COVID mitigation protocols such as socially distancing, avoiding large gatherings and wearing a face covering.

Our ability as a District to continue face-to-face instruction across all FBISD campuses is dependent on everyone making responsible choices inside and outside of the classroom, schools and all FBISD facilities. There will be times when potential exposure to COVID-19 is unavoidable, but we must make sure that we are each doing our part to avoid potential exposures when we can do so. I know this is challenging, because many of us are social by nature... and we want to gather with our family and friends. This is a trying time, and I know we want it to be over so that we can be with our friends and loved ones. But now is not that time. Illness is still spreading, and we must continue to protect ourselves and others.

In the meantime, FBISD continues our district-wide COVID mitigation efforts, and some Central Office staff have even been reassigned to serve as campus substitutes to ensure our face-to-face students have the appropriate level of adult supervision while at school. We all know that the challenges of COVID-19 have been and continue to be difficult. It has been a long road and the journey is not yet complete, but we are all in this together.

The Board also took action on several important items during Monday’s meeting, but the administration pulled one policy from the agenda regarding school-based mental health clinics so that further revisions could be made. Fort Bend ISD opened several clinics last year to support our students and families’ mental health needs, but it was recently brought to our attention that state law requires that we should have conducted a public hearing on the opening of the clinics. We have followed up with the Texas Education Agency to self-report this oversight and will be scheduling a public hearing about mental health services in the near future. The Board will also consider policy revisions to ensure that an error like this does not happen again.

Before I go, I also want you to know that the Board discussed the preliminary plans for the search of my successor as Superintendent of Schools. The Board is currently in the process of selecting and vetting a firm to consult and support our Board as they begin the search for highly qualified candidates. We will continue to share more information about the superintendent search as more information is available.  Be sure to check the FBISD website for updates.

Stay safe, stay healthy and have a great week!