Masks, social distancing and remote learning were the topics of discussion in Navarro ISD’s Safe Return to School Guidance Plan.
While the plan is not finalized yet, Navarro Superintendent Wendi Russell and Chief Academic Officer Lacey Gosch, along with each of the campus principals gave parents a glimpse into the plans for the upcoming 2020-21 school year which will begin as planned on Aug. 19.
“I assure you that our team here at Navarro ISD has been working around the clock to get these plans to you,” Russell said. “Please know that the safety and well being of our staff, students, parents and community is our priority.”
Parents will have the option to choose between in-person or remote learning for their children. If the parents opt for the remote learning route, the student is committed to that option for the grading period, Russell said.
“For most of our campuses, that is a six-week period; at our elementary, that is a nine-week period,” she said. “At the end of that grading period and you decide you want to send your child to face-to-face learning, then you will have that option. But once you elect remote learning, you’ll be bound by that with a commitment to the end of that grading period.”
In guidance received from the Texas Education Agency, districts were given two styles of remote learning for students — synchronous and asynchronous, Gosch explained.
The synchronous model has the remote learning students in the classroom working alongside their peers, while asynchronous allows the students to work at their own pace, but with assistance and intermittent connection with educators.
Navarro ISD chose to move forward with synchronous instruction for its students, Gosch said.
“What this means for our at-home students is that they will follow the traditional instructional schedule with some modifications based on class work and time,” Gosch said. “Students will be logging in live with their classroom peers who are on campus and they will see their teachers daily. Attendance will be taken for each class.”
The district plans to provide technology for all students — on campus and at home — that they will receive at the beginning of the year and return at the end.
“We will continue the instructional process,” Gosch said. “All grading guidelines and all rules and all curriculum for the at-home students as well as the students who are here on campus will be the same.”
In the discussions on how the staff and students will return to school, eliminating the spread and potential for exposure of the virus were at the top of the list.
In following Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s mask mandate, the district is making masks mandatory for all staff members, as well as students in grades fourth to 12th, Russell said.
“Anyone from intermediate up will wear a mask,” she said. “Our elementary campus, we will provide our students with shields and they may choose to wear a mask if you would like for them to, but we will provide them with a shield to wear as well.”
The mask mandate is subject to change along with the governor’s orders, Russell added.
Each of the campus principals talked hand sanitizer stations, more entry points for students along with health screening efforts, social distancing in hallways and in the classrooms, frequent disinfecting of common spaces and heading outdoors.
Navarro High School Principal Clay Scarborough identified ways the students can spread out during lunch between the cafeteria, courtyard and other spaces in the high school.
The same can’t be said for the elementary students as they will be eating breakfast and lunch in their classrooms, Principal Janice Smith said.
“We’re arranging our classrooms a little differently ensuring that we have as much as we can, the six feet distance between our desks,” she said. “Also the supplies for students, we want to minimize our students touching all of the supplies, so we’re going to keep adequate supplies for individual students.”
Navarro created a manual that will discuss the plans, however, Russell warned that it is ever-changing as new guidelines and mandates change from state officials.
The district staff consulted with various sources to make the best choices for the students, staff and community, Russell said.
“We have been taking all of this into consideration, we have consulted doctors, politicians, attorneys, TEA, the governor’s office,” she said. “We have put all of this together using all sorts of pieces of material and we fill like we have come up with a great plan to bring our kids back so that they can socially interact with one another in a safe environment.”
In an effort to better prepare for the start of school, Navarro has put out a preliminary survey to gauge parents’ initial plans for the new year. Then, campuses will send out an official form about two weeks prior to Aug. 19 where parents will formerly make their choice of in-person or at-home learning, Russell said.
For the preliminary survey, visit bit.ly/2CMoUjC .
To watch the announcement, visit bit.ly/3hdMGUW .