Fall Re-Entry: Looking At MISD Planning Processes

Courtney Carpenter
Dr. Courtney Carpenter, Chief Administrative Officer, MISD, Photo taken from June 15 Board Meeting

Midlothian ISD Discusses How School Looks In Fall

“In light of a lot of things going on we probably will not return to where we were,” Dr. Carpenter began in discussing the fall term re-entry process at Midlothian ISD. “Our fall re-entry is divided into three phases.”

The first phase, which was to create a task force of 80 members and get recommendations from them. It concluded with a community event with 819 participants. Ratings and thoughts of participants are going out this week to parents in the community.

The second phase is now complete. It consists of drafting a re-entry plan. Phase 3 begins June 16 and will continue into July and August.

There was also a questionnaire on what people thought of the proposed calendar. There were 437 participants in this online townhall, which was open until June 5. This comprises the actual execution of the plan and detailing the parent choice processes for students.

The primary themes identified (in order of deemed importance were:)

  1.  Importance of teachers and human interaction.
  2. Importance of face-to-face social interaction
  3. Remote learning rigor and relevance, grading and assessments
  4. Importance of types of learning experiences for students
  5. Options for students to learn remotely
  6. Balancing social distancing efforts
  7. Importance of showcasing learning that occurs remotely
  8. Assessing for learning gaps from COVID Spring 202 and academic plan for gaps with new content requirements.

The task force looked at four options for the fall term

  1. School resumes on schedule with students and staff in the buildings
  2. School resumes virtually, similar to how the school year ended
  3. School resumes with some students learning virtually
  4. Resumes with staggered sessions or alternating days to create smaller classes for social distancing.

What Do Parents Want?

Surveys that were sent to parents had a 44 percent of the parents (4,306) response rate. Out of those, 80% preferred to send their children back to school at MISD. While, 19.5% desire a remote learning environment with at-home learning provided by MISD. And 0.5% said they do not intend to send children back to school in any format.

The task force recommended a hybrid model of learning. “We want to have an option for online learning for students that do not want to come back,” Dr. Carpenter said. “But also an opportunity to stagger if we have to alternate schedules for students that do need to come back (to the school buildings).”

Its An Evolving Situation

Dr. Carpenter anticipates that MISD will be in between a 100% face to face learning scenario (the way school has been in past years – for 80% of the students) and a 100% remote learning scenario (the way this spring semester ended -for approximately 20% of the students in the fall). She feels there could be sporadic short-term closures with shifts to remote learning and other times when there are rotating schedules for face to face learning.

“There are four things that will dictate the fall for us. Currently there are six feet of required distancing and self-isolation requirements for anyone who tests positive and for those in contact,” Carpenter continued. “TEA (Texas Education Agency) just changed the guidelines again. They were no more than eleven in a classroom. They changed it just last week to 45 square feet per person with six foot distancing with a cap of 22.

She closed by saying she expects the commissioner to speak on the situation again Thursday. Things she expects to happen soon include: the TEA to provide formulas for remote instruction for the coming school year and guidelines for reopening schools for the coming year.