MISD Superintendent Says The Million Dollar Question is How, When & What Will School Look Like This Fall?
Midlothian- In another lengthy Midlothian ISD board meeting on Monday night, COVID-19 was a focal point. The first day of school will be here before we know it, and parents, students and staff are still wondering what does fall look like? The answer from Midlothian ISD: we just don’t know yet.
During the presentation, the board shared the July MISD survey results: 69% of respondents want face to face instruction, 30% want virtual learning and 1% will not enroll at all.
Superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter said about 50% of MISD staff is not comfortable returning to the classroom for face to face learning. For those looking for a decision tonight, Ledbetter explained very few districts have made a decision other than those “ordered to suspend in person learning until after September 7” by Dallas County.
He continued no major decisions would be made this evening, but most likely discussed and decided next week on the 27th. Dr. Ledbetter emphasized “we want to get kids back in classrooms and be face to face and serve the community in the best way possible.” The million dollar question, he said, is how, when, and what will it look like? He added, “I’ll assure you, not everyone is going to be happy with the way it looks.”
MISD shared the results from the July staff survey: 52% staff/teachers are comfortable with Face to Face learning, while 48% are not comfortable under current health conditions with Face to Face learning. Some of their biggest concerns include: having adequate cleaning supplies, PPE, and protocol for if someone is sick.
To Mask or Not to Mask?
In the TEA guidelines released on July 17, children 10 and up will be required to wear a face mask. The MISD COVID-19 task force is going further and recommends children K-12, all staff, teachers and visitors be required to wear a mask.
Other suggestions being considered include: staggering school start/end times; staggering transitions between classes; students eating lunch in their classroom; providing grab & go or boxed lunches; removing water fountains and replacing with water bottle stations.
Many questions remain about how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 on a school bus. MISD encourages parents to drive their children, or have them walk/ride a bike to decrease crowded school buses. The district also recommends having the bus load from back to front. Children will be required to sanitize their hands when boarding the bus. The windows will be open when possible, and kids must wear a mask on the bus.
Someone posed the question: what happens if the bus driver detects a child showing symptoms of illness? That’s just one of many difficult questions the school board and districts across the country are pondering as the first day of school gets closer and closer.
Present or Absent?
As a parent, one of the questions I know many of us have revolves around attendance. The TEA guidelines did not change the 90% attendance requirement. If a child becomes ill or is in close contact with a lab confirmed COVID positive individual, and misses 14+ days of school, how will they meet attendance requirements? A child home quarantining can complete their work remotely and still be counted present.
However, if the child is sick and unable to do the school work – not only is attendance a potential issue. But how does the child catch up on schoolwork, and how does it impact them mentally and emotionally?
Wash, Sanitize, Spray Away The Germs
One thing MISD and every district knows – regardless of when schools return to in person instruction, prevention and sanitation is key. Touchless hand sanitizing stations will be in high traffic areas like hallways, the cafeteria, etc. Teachers and staff will frequently remind and encourage kids to wash their hands. And MISD plans to have additional janitorial staff on campuses to clean classrooms, restrooms and hallways thoroughly and often.
At the moment we all have more questions than answers, and that includes students, parents, teachers, nurses and local officials. The 2020-2021 school year will require a lot of patience, flexibility and understanding.