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School districts respond to TEA suggestions for 2020-21 school year

Posted at 9:11 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 01:13:33-04

Educators and students have had to make major adjustments to carry out the remainder of the spring semester.

And now, public school districts are working to figure out how the next school year will play out.

“The only thing that we can count on is things are going to be different,” said Premont ISD Superintendent of Schools Steve VanMatre.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released several options for school districts to consider for the 2020-2021 school calendar.

Those include moving to a year-long model; adding 30 days to the academic calendar; or spreading the school year out, with intermittent breaks.

Premont ISD decided on a calendar for next school year in a recent meeting.

"Traditionally we start on the fourth Monday in August," VanMatre said. "Now, we're starting, if allowed to, on August 3rd. Traditionally, we don't have intercessions. On this calendar, we are."

The agency said the school year is likely to include short-term disruptions and student absences.

TEA is encouraging school districts to build a calendar that anticipates these scenarios to help minimize disruption.

CCISD Superintendent Roland Hernandez said it is taking these things into consideration, but has not made a final decision on what its calendar will look like.

"We're seeking feedback from our teachers and parents, as well, before we make our final decision," he said. "What makes it of course a challenge is the number of students in any one classroom or in schools. As well as the fact that we transport over 10,000 students a day in our buses."

But there are a lot of possibilities.

"You may see students who are taking the approach of distance learning from home and students who, if given the opportunity, would be back in class," he said. "So you could see both approaches being used to balance out the numbers. Some kids might come in certain days of the week while other students come in different days of the week.”

Schools are also considering building in "bad weather weeks" instead of the usual scheduled "bad weather days," in case there is a second wave of the virus.

But the priority for both districts is safety for all staff and students.

"We're not going to put any kid or staff member in a situation that's unsafe," VanMatre said.