RISD’s first day of school is six weeks from today

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) issued guidelines Tuesday for reconvening a new school year, with on-campus safety procedures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and optional remote learning for every student whose parents request it.

“Texas public school districts must reopen campuses for in-person instruction in August in order to continue receiving state funding, unless Gov. Greg Abbott issues a school closure order or there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 on an individual campus that forces a temporary shutdown of the building,” Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced.

In response, Richardson ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone released a video outlining district plans to protect teachers and students when schools open six weeks from today.

“The TEA is very clear. On-campus instruction must be offered for all grades served by the campus every day for every student,” said Stone. “For us to have school in person in RISD, we will have a relentless focus on safety.”

In addition to requiring masks for students aged 10 and up, RISD is “still considering a staggered arrival schedule, one way hallways, reduced transitions, lunch in classrooms, social distancing, regularly scheduled hand washing, sanitizer dispensers and many other considerations,” Stone said.

Responding to an online survey, about 67% of RISD families said they planned to send their children to face-to-face school. About 34%, or the parents of 12,000 students, said they would sign up for virtual instruction.

“The virtual learning that we will offer our students this fall will look nothing, I mean nothing, like the at-home learning from last spring,” Stone assured parents.

The district will use two methods of virtual instruction – synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous learning will require all students to be virtually present at the same time, and will include video conferences and scheduled online tests. Asynchronous instruction includes self-paced online courses with intermittent teacher support, pre-assigned work and pre-recorded videos.

Whether families opt for virtual or face-to-face learning, students will still be enrolled at their home campus, Stone said. Between July 20-31, RISD will ask families for a formal enrollment commitment on their choice of learning styles.

The district is waiting for additional state guidance about UIL activities such as athletic, musical and academic contests.