LISD students to be either 100% virtual or 100% in-person

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

Leander ISD is giving families two options regarding the 2020-21 school year. Students will be enrolled in either 100% Virtual Empowered Learning or 100% in-person instruction. 

Matt Mitchell, LISD communications coordinator, answered questions regarding children under 10 wearing masks and what happens when a student or staffer contracts COVID-19, etc. (The Four Points News Q&A is at the end of this article.)

LISD announced to families its plans on Monday, July 6. The decision to offer in-person and remote learning was made based on the rules being set by the state on school funding, and the district’s ability to support teachers and school operations. 

The  Texas Education Agency School released guidelines for school districts on the next day on July 7 stating they must offer daily on-campus instruction for all students who want it, but any parent may request that their child be offered virtual instruction from any school district that offers it.

A couple of weeks ago, LISD launched a survey for all families to select preferences regarding the opening of the upcoming school year. They used that data as a guide when setting expectations for the new school year.

The Virtual Empowered Learning allows teams to lead both live and self-paced classes. 

Earlier this summer the district was also considering a third option, combining in-person and at-home learning but will not offer that.

“At this time, based on guidance from the state, feasibility, and concerns about teacher workload, we are not pursuing a hybrid 50/50 option,” according to the email sent to all LISD families on Monday.

The district held a trio of webinars this week for families to ask questions regarding the decision. 

Some teachers could begin returning to their buildings as soon as next week to prepare for school starting on Aug. 13.

Matt Mitchell, LISD communications coordinator, answers questions in this Four Points News Q&A. 

1) Who wears masks and when since Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders state that children under 10 are exempt?

The Governor’s order on July 2nd requires facial coverings, such as masks, for staff and students while on school buses and in common areas, hallways, restrooms and other areas where 6 feet of distancing cannot be maintained. 

Students under 10-years-old are required to wear facial coverings during arrival, dismissal and transitions. They will be allowed to remove their mask based on classroom protocols.

2) What will be the protocol when a student or teacher is found to have COVID-19 during the course of the school year? Will other students/teachers be notified and/or how will that be handled? 

  • When a student displays symptoms of COVID-19, the school nurse will assess and determine if and when a student needs to be sent home.  
  • Students who are sick will put on facial covering, move to a separate sick room and should be picked up within an hour from contacting the student’s parent or guardian.  
  • Staff / teacher displaying COVID-19 symptoms or has a confirmed case must follow district protocols.
  • Campus COVID Team will identify those who have been directly exposed to infectious secretions (e.g., being coughed on while not wearing a facial covering) or being within six feet of the individual for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes, while not wearing a facial covering, within 48 hours before the individual’s onset of symptoms. Those individuals will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days from their last exposure to that individual.
  • District communication will be provided to the parents of students who came in contact with a COVID-19 positive student or staff member.
  • Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be required to provide a doctor’s release before returning to school.
  • The classroom and other common areas will be disinfected once unoccupied.

3) If students/families change their mind and want the other option than they initially choose, how do they do that? 

Parents may opt for their child to engage in virtual learning over the course of the school year. Should parents decide that in person schooling is a better fit for their child or family, then parents may select to bring their child back to school instead of engaging in virtual learning. To provide a seamless transition, this change will be made at the start of the next grading period.

Parents may elect to choose virtual learning at any point in the school year​.

4) Band, athletics, theater… are there rules and guidelines for those yet?  

These guidelines are under development and will follow the pending guidance of TEA and UIL.