Why do we have to make a decision about virtual vs on-campus learning so soon?
While it would be nice to wait until the last minute to evaluate the virus trends, we need to have some idea of how many students at which grade levels are contemplating online learning so that we can begin preparing the right number of teachers to teach online.
The state has set a cut off of two weeks before the first day of school as the last time for parents to change their minds.
Parents making a decision on the survey due July 19 can change their answer with the school up to two weeks before Aug. 11 (July 28).
What if I want my student to do virtual learning?
We are asking any parents who wish for their child to do virtual learning to please fill out the parent survey here: https://forms.gle/M1RTVPYvRtwji3M37
Please note that ONLY parents choosing the virtual option need to respond.
What if we choose virtual learning initially but change our mind and want on-campus instruction (and vice-versa)?
You have flexibility with the instructional settings.
The one stipulation we ask parents to abide by is to remain in a setting for the entire grading period (six weeks for secondary and nine weeks for elementary).
This helps with the continuity of instruction for the child and the teacher. Please keep in mind that as children move from one instructional setting to another, they will also likely switch teachers. To preserve the integrity of the instruction, we are assigning teachers specifically to a virtual setting or a regular in-person setting. However, what matters most is that children continue learning at high levels regardless of where they are.
If we opt for virtual schooling, how will state testing be handled for students who are at home?
We have not been given guidance on STAAR testing from the state beyond them saying we will have STAAR testing. If the state continues online learning into the Spring, we expect to be given some guidance as to if and how we would be STAAR testing.
How will 504 accommodations be handled for online learners?
Students will receive all the 504 accommodations that are applicable in an online environment. For example, if we have a student with a vision disorder, we will provide them with a big-screen laptop; or if a student has a reading disability and has oral examinations, we will provide some type of text to speech either through a live person or an online program.
Please check with your campus for more details on your child's specific situation.
If I'm choosing on-campus learning, do I need to return the survey?
No, only those choosing on-line learning need to submit the survey.
ALL students, including virtual, must still register! https://www.hipponation.org/registration
Will the school hours and number of days per week be normal for those selecting on-campus learning?
The in-person school option will be just like regular school; five days a week at regular hours. After considering the hardship that odd schedules would pose for working families, we decided to keep it as consistent as possible.
HEALTH & SAFETY
If we choose on-campus learning, will children be required to wear masks all day? What about recess or gym class?They have to wear them upon arrival, while in the hallways, transition, and anytime they leave the classroom. They may remove them inside the classroom when they are seated apart from others.
However, we are giving teachers an option to have their children wear them when they have to work closely with children for small groups or one-on-one when physical distancing is not possible.For smaller children, it is not developmentally appropriate for children to wear masks for long periods of time. Teachers will have clear face shields to protect themselves and the children.Masks will not have to be worn if the children are outside. We will teach children about maintaining safe distances. They will have to wash their hands before and after recess. We are purchasing cleaning devices that allow us to sanitize the equipment without having to wipe down every square inch of it.No masks will be worn unless spacing the children becomes an issue. The teachers are already in planning mode to ensure their activities keep children engaged but safely apart.Please note that guidance does change on occasion. If guidance about masks is revised from local or state agencies, we will communicate that.
Will the schools do fever checks of all students each day?
No, we ask that all parents do that each day prior to sending your child to school.
We have health and safety guidelines written specifically for COVID, and at the guidance of local health officials and our own Director of Health and Safety, who is an RN, we opted not to take temperatures.
Asymptomatic people, particularly children, will not run a fever if they are positive for the virus. Taking temperatures at the onset and throughout the day would consume valuable teaching time and would not necessarily yield results we would need to take further action. Teachers will still screen children throughout the day and if anyone is feeling ill, our nurses will screen them with a temperature check in the nurse's station.
It is critically important that parents keep children home from school if they have any symptom of illness.
If a student or teacher tests positive, who will be informed?If someone tests positive, we are obligated to inform any staff and students (including the parents) who came in close contact with that student. The state has given us a clear definition of what close contact is, which would require us to conduct a contact tracing process whenever a student or staff member tests positive. That could mean quite a few people with just one case once we determine the degree of contact with every person involved.
Will a quarantined student be counted absent?No, the student will continue with instruction by switching over to remote learning. As long as the students maintain good attendance with online expectations, the student will not be counted absent.
If one student or staff member tests positive for the virus, will the entire school be quarantined?We are still awaiting official guidance from the state.
In the meantime, we are considering the following:In an elementary setting, if a child tests positive, the children in that particular classroom will be quarantined at home for 14 days and learning will continue remotely.
If the teacher is unable to teach due to illness, we will secure a qualified substitute. We require masks while outside the classroom to avoid prolonged, sustained contact with other students for this very reason.
The contact tracing at the secondary level becomes a little more complicated, but we hope to avoid having to shut down an entire building, if possible.
Are doors going to be left open to help air circulation?We are planning to leave doors open within the school building to improve circulation in the classrooms. Exterior doors will remain locked and secured. No outside visitors, including parents, will be allowed inside the schools during the first 12 weeks of school.
We will evaluate that process throughout the year and revise if necessary and prudent.Safety and security remain our top priority!
Will the dual language program continue this year?
Yes, it will continue for on-campus learning.
We are hoping to be able to provide a full online dual language program. It is all dependent on having a large enough group of dual language students to necessitate an online dual language teacher. We hope to know for sure after the parent survey is closed.
What if I want to walk my child into school or visit them for lunch?
Unfortunately, for the first 12 weeks, the schools will be completely closed to outside visitors, including parents.
We know this will be very difficult, especially for parents of students who are just starting school, but it is part of our efforts to mitigate and minimize the potential spread of COVID in our schools.
This will also include special events like birthday parties in elementary classrooms. Bringing in outside food will not be allowed. We will re-evaluate this stance as we are able to assess the health and safety conditions in the community. We will do our best to celebrate birthdays in the elementary classrooms for our students during this closure period.
If my child is in virtual learning, are they still able to participate in athletics or other extra-curricular activities?
Remote learning students may still participate in athletics before or after school. Our coaches are already preparing for those possibilities with our students. However, one limitation would be not attending the athletics class offered during the day. Students would still have to maintain eligibility with attendance and grades, which is no different than attending regular in-person classes.
What about high school electives and virtual learning, as well as virtual learning and the dual credit program?At this time, we are not 100% certain which electives can be offered online. A lot depends on how many students opt for virtual instruction and what electives they are taking. The more students who opt for online learning, the greater chance we will have a teacher that teaches that subject.We are awaiting a meeting with Temple College regarding dual credit courses later in July. These courses are taught and controlled by the college, so they will make the determination of whether online is an option.
What guidance did the district use in developing the Instructional Plan for 2020-21?
The district receives guidance from TEA (Texas Education Agency) as well as county, state, and national agencies, including the Governor's office. In addition, almost daily conversations are shared with other Central Texas superintendents.
Another important document the district used is from the American Academy of Pediatrics. We encourage all parents to read it.
Will there be a "Meet the Teacher" night this year?The teachers will host a virtual "meet the teacher" before school starts.
Each campus will send out specific instructions about how each grade level will meet.This is an unusual year, but rest assured that each campus principal will find ways to make that first day as smooth and as pleasant as possible.
What about students in the gifted program?
Students will remain in the gifted program regardless of whether they choose in-person or virtual.
Will my student receive a Chromebook for the school year?
The district will launch a "1:1 Chromebook" initiative for Middle and High School students. That means all middle school and high school students will be issued a Chromebook to have throughout the school year.
For more information, please click here.
How do I register my student for the 2020-2021 school year?
Please visit hipponation.org/registration to complete online registration.