Seguin High School parents could see their children making both a virtual and physical return to the classroom this coming school year.
Seguin ISD’s back to school task force presented possible plans officials have in the pipeline for the upcoming school year to the trustees during a regular school board meeting on Tuesday.
In the update, Seguin Independent School District Associate Superintendent Bill Lewis said the students’ return to school could come in three possible modes: face-to-face, blended learning or remote learning.
“We want to put a plan together to bring students and staff back in our buildings in the safest and responsive way we can,” Lewis said. “What went on in the spring was an emergency situation, and we’re not going to continue in emergency mode. We got to be back in regular mode… Whatever the situation is, it’s got to be real, and it’s got to be authentic, and we have to be able to continue with educating our students in the best possible way as we move forward because who knows how long [this] is gonna last.”
In the blended model, students are divided into alternating groups with one group attending class online and the other attending class on campus. The model includes a rotation between a Monday and Tuesday group and a Wednesday and Thursday group with Fridays dedicated to remote instruction.
“[With the] possible blended learning where we’re back at maybe 50% of the kids at a time, [with] 50% you can social distance, and you can feed students, and you can sit students in classrooms and spread them out and those kinds of things,” Lewis said. “These are just preliminary, things could change depending on the information we get back. We’re closely monitoring what the state, what the CDC, what the governor’s federal guidelines are coming down.”
The face-to-face approach would see students returning to business as usual with a five-day-a-week schedule with social distancing and masks encouraged, not required, Lewis said.
Resuming class both virtually or physically presents several problems that Seguin ISD, nor any other school district in the country, has answers for yet, Lewis said.
“Transportation [is one of the] hardest things to do in a social distance [scenario]. Right now, the rules for transportation are one kid every other seat,” Lewis said. “So that basically puts us starting bus service at four in the morning… that’s just not possible. I mean, putting 12 kids on a bus that usually holds 55 to 70 kids is problematic. We don’t have 280 buses to bus everybody.”
Availability of face masks and properly socially distanced meals are also an issue the school is facing if students make the return to campus, Lewis said.
“We’re also looking at our child nutrition meal service as well. We may be feeding children in their classrooms as opposed to cafeterias,” Seguin ISD Chief Information Officer Sean Hoffmann said. “So that’s another scenario that we’re gonna have to figure out. But again, all Texas public schools are looking at exploring these ideas, and until we get some guidance from the state on what the expectations are, we’ll keep exploring our options.”
There is also an issue of providing the necessary equipment to students who may not have the means to attend online classes, Lewis said.
“We do have about 140 WiFi devices at this point that we’ve taken possession of, they’re hard to get, but we do plan on purchasing some more,” Lewis said. “We have general ideas of what percentage we believe may need that, but it’s hard to tell. We’ll be collecting a lot more information for each specific [family] to try to know what they have available to them online. So as part of that online registration process, we’ll ask those questions. And that rolls out in mid-July.”
Hoffmann said the district is working to solve the issues, but it takes time.
“It’s important for parents to understand that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic,” Hoffmann said. “And at this point, we are looking at and evaluating the different scenarios [of what the] fall 2020 school year will look like. There are a lot of unknowns [and] just as the parents [are] eager to learn, we’re eager to learn, too, but it would be premature at this point to say that we’ve got a set plan of what the first day of school is, or what the first week of school is.”