LISD considering in-person & blended school for 2020-21

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

Leander ISD continues to work on plans to begin school on Thursday, Aug. 13 and is considering scenarios for opening the 2020-21 school year during the novel coronavirus global pandemic.

“With so much uncertainty and facing scenarios where families are going to have to face high stress, I think it’s critical we communicate effectively about what to expect,” said Trish Bode, LISD Board of Trustees president during the June 18 board meeting.

LISD presented scenarios for opening the 2020-21 school year at last week’s meeting with options for families to choose between an in-person and blended approach to school, as well as an option to learn at home with the Virtual Empowered Learning program. 

The district plans to announce a recommendation by July 17 for opening the next school year. 

“The emergency remote learning we were all thrown into this spring provided us with a unique real-life opportunity to learn, research, and collect feedback to design a vastly improved, robust virtual learning experience for the fall,” the LISD website states. “We aim to provide our parents with the freedom to choose the 100% ‘Virtual Empowered Learning’ environment if they believe it is in the best interest of their students and family.” 

Virtual Empowered Learning will provide a balance of both live, face-to-face interactions with educators and fellow students along with self-paced learning activities, projects, and assignments based on the LISD curriculum, aligned to state standards. 

A numerical grading system measuring student mastery of content and standards will be utilized. At the high school level, grades will be calculated into GPA. Teachers will utilize a common, consistent instructional delivery system that will reduce email traffic to parents, and enable students to access their coursework independently.  

LISD continues to work with the state and local public health agencies for final guidance regarding a blended approach to learning, where students will be in buildings and learning remotely through virtual learning opportunities. The blended approach provides students the opportunity to utilize learning resources to learn and create on devices.

In order to meet health and safety standards recommended by public health agencies, as well as state and federal government, LISD will consider the following possible proactive strategies: 

  • Staff and students (ages 6 and older) wearing Personal Protective Equipment such as masks and gloves when appropriate
  • Frequent classroom and common area surface cleaning.
  • Frequent hand washing practices implemented.
  • 6 ft of distance between students.
  • COVID-19 symptom screening upon arrival at campuses.
  • Staff health and safety protocols related to COVID-19 as part of August Professional Development.
  • Special Considerations for students and staff to stay home if they are high-risk or believe they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. – Guidelines that limit student interaction.

All decisions will be made considering state guidelines, social distancing and overall safety of all students and staff. Here are considerations so far: 

Two different option scenarios for elementary: 

  • Students in school full time, utilizing one or both of the following strategies: 
    • Class size reduction using campus spaces (i.e. the cafeteria, hallways, offices, etc. as classrooms)
    • Spread students out across multiple facilities if necessary
  • Divide students into groups to rotate days in buildings
    • Students rotate in between school and blended learning at home

For secondary: 

  • 50% of students attend school on alternating days
  • Fine arts, athletics and extracurricular activities plan accordingly 

“If we find ourselves in a situation where there is a substantial spread of COVID-19 and we are led to provide 100% virtual learning for all, we have the capacity and are prepared to move all students to LISD’s new and improved Virtual Empowered Learning,” LISD states.