Kerrville ISD announces re-opening plans

Antler band members participate in band practice in the parking lot of Tivy High School, preparing for the upcoming marching band season.

The administration at Kerrville Independent School District announced their re-opening plan recently; and asked parents in the district to choose in July whether their students would return Aug. 24 to classes online or to in-person classes.

“We will ask each individual student to make a commitment to one of these instructional models (in-person or Virtual KISD 2.0) to start the year. However, students will have opportunities to transition between these models at the end of the grading periods.”

For example, if a student begins the school year in Virtual KISD 2.0 but finds the model is not suitable, the student can request to transition to in-person on campus instruction at the end of the first six-weeks grading period.

A student who begins the year in-person on campus can choose to transition to VK2 at the end of the first six-weeks grading period.

The “KISD Commitment

2020-21”

“There is no doubt that the last several months have been difficult for many of our families, our state and for our country as we have navigated the Covid-19 pandemic,” the official announcement from Superintendent Dr. Mark Foust’s office said. “We acknowledge that this pandemic will be with us until we have proven medical treatments and a widely available, FDA-approved vaccine. Until then, mitigation strategies are vital to safely reopening our schools.

“In Kerrville ISD, the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff are our first priority. Our plan is to re-open all schools to all students for in-person instruction on regular bell schedules beginning Aug. 24, 2020. With this in mind we are sharing our procedures for re-opening this fall.

“This comprehensive plan is designed to significantly reduce the risks of the spread of Covid-19 and help protect you, your family members and the Kerrville community. Our plans to return to campus, as outlined below, are based upon the latest information available on July 1, 2020. We will continue to incorporate guidelines provided by the Texas Education Agency, the Center for Disease Control, the Texas Departments of State Health Services and local health officials. This plan is subject to periodic updates as they become available.

“KISD will offer on campus in-person instruction as well as options for online learning through Virtual KISD 2.0. The Virtual KISD 2.0 options will vary by grade level and course subject.”

In mid-July parents were asked to make an enrollment commitment and choose either in-person instruction or online learning through Virtual KISD 2.0.

“This enrollment verification is vital for campuses to make staffing adjustments for each instructional model,” the plan said.

The KISD Commitment for the on-campus in-person experience includes enhanced sanitization measures, daily health screenings, access to personal protective equipment for students and staff, workplace and classroom safety guidelines, attention to personal hygiene and encouraged social distancing practices.

“With these mitigations in mind, we can all do our part to keep our loved ones safe and to protect our schools and community. We are grateful and excited for the opportunity to return to face to face teaching and learning in the upcoming school year,” administration officials said.

Enhanced Sanitization

KISD custodial staff will use a team cleaning process and use CDC recommended disinfectants that are proven to kill viruses like Covid-19, as well as others, and are certified as safe for schools and public spaces.

Custodial staff will frequently wipe high traffic surfaces including hand rails, door handles, counter tops and other horizontal surfaces over the course of the day. Custodial staff will increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting restrooms and common areas throughout the day.

Custodial staff will also use a disinfectant fogger to complement the regular cleaning process at the end of each day.

Additional hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed throughout campuses in easily accessible and high traffic areas and maintained throughout the day.

Daily health screenings for

all staff, students

When screening whether an individual has symptoms consistent with Covid-19, they will consider the now oft-repeated questions: Have they recently begun experiencing any of the symptoms in a way that is not normal for them?

Those include feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees; loss of taste or smell; cough; difficulty breathing; shortness of breath; headache; chills; shaking or exaggerated shivering; sore throat; significant muscle pain or ache; and/or diarrhea.

Staff Screening

Each staff member will be screened before reporting for duty each day. Each campus will provide staff with modified times to report to morning duty stations. Staff screening will include daily temperature checks and a health questionnaire. Any staff member displaying Covid-19 symptoms will be asked to immediately notify their supervisor and stay home.

Student Screening

Parents must ensure they don’t send a child to school on campus if the child has Covid-19 symptoms, is lab-confirmed with Covid-19, or has been exposed in close contact with someone with lab-confirmed Covid-19.

All student screening will include a health questionnaire. According to TEA, performing forehead temperature checks of otherwise asymptomatic students in school is not recommended, officials said.

All students will be screened by school staff prior to entering the school; and car riders may be screened in their vehicles or students will be screened at exterior entrance doors prior to entering the building. Bus riders will be screened at the campus drop-off location.

Any student displaying Covid-19 symptoms will immediately be separated, see the campus nurse for additional screening, and parents will be contacted to take the student home. If a campus staff member or any student begins to display symptoms during the school day, they will immediately report to the campus nurse for a Covid-19 health screening.

Personal Protective Equipment,

attention to personal hygiene

Staff will be provided with PPE including cloth masks and clear face guards. Some face masks may be available for students, but parents are encouraged to obtain personalized facemasks for their student that fit comfortably and are convenient to put on and take off frequently.

Teachers will lead age-appropriate discussions in attention to personal hygiene; frequent, proper hand-washing techniques; and campus safety practices.

Classroom Instruction

Once all students have been screened for Covid-19 symptoms, students will be directed to use hand-sanitizer stations before entering their school. They also must wear masks when moving in the hallways or in common areas with larger numbers of students.

Students may not be required to wear masks in classrooms when reasonable distancing is possible, but must also remain in compliance with the governor’s executive orders regarding the wearing of masks.

First through 12th grade students will wear masks (when feasible) in classrooms, especially when interacting in close proximity with other students; and will comply with the governor’s executive orders.

Special Education

KISD’s plan ensures that students with disabilities have equal access to educational opportunities during in-person learning or through Virtual KISD 2.0.

Special Education personnel will make every effort to ensure all Kerrville ISD special education students are provided the necessary supports to be successful during any campus or district closure.

Other mitigations may occur in life skills classrooms based on student needs.

Students with significant physical health/cognitive needs will not be required to wear facial coverings. School personnel will work closely with families of students who are immune-compromised regarding specific needs when returning to school.

Recess / PE / Electives / Assemblies

“We will continue important activities related to recess, PE, and other electives with some modifications. Faculty and staff will make modifications to activities (when feasible) to increase social distancing,” the plan says.

It may be impractical for students to wear masks while participating in some activities during PE or non-UIL athletic or other extracurricular activities.

In these instances, staff will ensure safe distancing. Campuses will limit or eliminate school-wide/grade-level assemblies and large gatherings of students.

University Interscholastic League,

Extra-Curricular Activities

Students who select the Virtual KISD 2.0 Instructional Model will be allowed to participate in UIL and extracurricular activities on campus; additional information will be provided with the publication of details on Virtual KISD 2.0.

The UIL is expected to provide guidelines on student and audience participation at UIL events for Fall 2020.

Other Fine Arts and extra-curricular governing organizations will provide guidance on extracurricular activities. Field trips and student travel to or from high risk areas may be postponed or cancelled.

Breakfast and Lunch

The KISD food services management company, Chartwells, is equipped to follow all of the safety protocols of food service for students.

The Texas Department of Agriculture has issued specific guidelines to ensure safe food services delivery in the schools. Safety protocols include that students will maintain social distancing when in line for breakfast and/or lunch. Students will be assigned specific tables or areas for eating with increased distancing between students; and eating will be done in various spaces outside of the lunch room.

Food will be individually packaged or be individually plated meals with disposable plates and utensils for students who do not bring their own lunch.

Transportation

For students riding KISD busses, strict compliance to the guidelines is required to maintain bus riding privileges. All bus riders will use hand sanitizer as they enter the bus; sit in their assigned seat; keep their mask or face covering on at all times; and if a student does not have a facemask available, a disposable mask will be provided.

Only students riding a special education bus will be screened as they board the bus; all other students will be screened on campus.

Arrival / Dismissal

Allow more time for the student drop-off process for arrival to campus. Parent drop-off lines will take longer due to the screening process. Morning bus route times will be adjusted to allow for additional time to screen students on buses as they arrive on campus.

Parents are asked to follow the campus specific guidelines for locations for student drop off; and look for increased signage for guidelines.

Dismissal

Parent walk ups will not be permitted at dismissal. Parents are asked to follow specific guidelines for locations for student pick up. Some grade levels may stagger dismissal times by a few minutes.

Campus Visitors

According to the plan, campus visitors will be significantly restricted this year. For the safety of students and staff, all visitors with scheduled appointments (i.e. ARD meetings or parent/teacher conferences) will be screened prior to passing the receptionist.

Parents will not be able to eat breakfast or lunch with their children. Unless otherwise notified, there will be no guest speakers on campuses.

Family Engagement

KISD welcomes parents, but the partnership will likely look different during the 2020-21 school year.

Campuses will create limited opportunities to continue to connect parents and community members to their schools in person. Modified on-campus parent events (with smaller numbers, masks and social distancing) will be offered during the year. Pre-Registration on a first-come, first-served basis may be required for on-campus events. Health screening will be required prior to attending on-campus events.

KISD Response to Positive Cases of Covid-19 on Campus

The following rules were determined prior to guidance from TEA and are subject to change, KISD officials said.

If more than 2 percent of students at an elementary campus are active positive Covid-19 cases, the campus will be closed for a period of up to five days and students will temporarily transition to Virtual KISD 2.0 during that closure.

If more than 2 percent of students in grades 6-8 are active positive Covid-19 cases, the campus will close for a period of up to five days and students will temporarily transition to Virtual KISD 2.0.

If more than 2 percent of Tivy High School students are active positive Covid-19 cases, the campus will be closed for a period of up to five days and all students will temporarily transition to Virtual KISD 2.0.

If more than one campus must close due to active positive Covid-19 cases, the entire district may be closed for a period of up to 5 days and all students will temporarily transition to Virtual KISD 2.0.

KISD may make the decision to temporarily close an individual classroom based on a concentration of positive Covid-19 cases. Classroom and campus closures of in-person instruction could be impacted by staff availability.

Virtual KISD 2.0 Overview (VK2)

“There is significant uncertainty surrounding the impacts of Covid-19 on our communities. With this uncertainty looming, Kerrville ISD is pleased to offer families the flexibility to choose an instructional model that best fits their student’s academic, physical and social emotional needs,” the plan says. “Although we strongly desire a return of every student to in-person on campus learning experiences, we recognize this may be impractical for some families. Parents will have the option to choose in-person on campus instruction or learning online through Virtual KISD 2.0.”

Beginning Aug. 24, learning online will have several differences from what KISD students experienced during the district closure during the Spring of 2020. This document is designed to provide an overview of the Virtual KISD 2.0 instructional model for the various grade levels, content areas and electives. Campuses and VK2 teachers will provide additional details to the requirements for academic success in Virtual KISD 2.0 when school begins.

“We hope this overview and the KISD Commitment help families make an informed decision on the instructional model that is right for your student(s).”

Making a Commitment to an Instructional Model

“Changing instructional models at the end of grading periods requires campuses and the district to make staffing adjustments; so pay close attention to the change request deadlines that will be published in August. The deadline to request a change to your student’s instructional model will be two weeks prior to the end of each six-weeks grading period.

“Your student’s teacher(s) for Virtual KISD 2.0 may not be from your home campus and teacher changes are likely when moving from in-person to VK2 or from VK2 to in-person instruction,” the plan says. “Virtual KISD 2.0 will blend live, two-way interactive classes with students and teachers participating in real time (synchronous instruction) with (asynchronous) content that will be self-paced with pre-recorded video lessons or intermittent teacher instruction.”

The VK2 model will cover the same required curriculum that is also being taught through the in-person on campus model.

Synchronous instruction will be scheduled in VK2, and requires all participants to be present at the same time, while the asynchronous learning opportunities do not require participants to be virtually present at the same time.

“By blending synchronous and asynchronous instruction, Virtual KISD 2.0 will provide a much-improved virtual learning experience for students; however, we contend there is no substitute for the in-person on campus learning experience,” the plan says.

Grading practices for Virtual KISD 2.0 will be consistent with those for in-person on campus instruction; and ongoing progress monitoring is a critical component of both in-person and VK2 instructional models.

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