RISD families may choose virtual or face-to-face learning when school starts Aug. 19

The Richardson ISD has released a blueprint for returning to school based on state and county health guidelines for COVID-19. Their plans allow families to choose virtual or in-person instruction, although all students will begin Aug. 19 with three weeks of learning online. In-person teaching starts Sept. 8.

The face-to-face instruction plan calls for frequent health screenings for students and staff and masks for grades 3-12. Younger students will only be required to use face coverings during drop off, pick up and in hallways. RISD will provide masks for students who do not have one. No campus visitors will be allowed.

School nurses will separate students feeling ill from those receiving medications or treatment for injuries in the clinic, and possible coronavirus patients will be sent home quickly. The clinic will no longer be used for rest, cool down or respite from anxiety.

Ten minutes will be added to the end of each school day to permit staggering of arrival and dismissal times. Student groups will be assigned entry and exit doors to minimize traffic, and parents will be prohibited from walking students to classrooms. On school buses, students will sit one per row unless they live in the same household. Buses will be disinfected after each route.

Meal locations may include libraries and gyms for social distancing, and parents will not be allowed to bring in meals. Custodians will clean schools nightly, and each classroom will be equipped with disinfectant and hand sanitizer.

Junior high and high school students will adopt an AB block schedule, which alternates classes daily and extends time in each class. The method will reduce hallway transitions.

A Virtual School Director will oversee the new e-learning program, with significant improvements over the program hastily set up in the spring. Daily attendance will be taken, and requirements will be rigorous. A technology help desk will assist, and RISD will communicate with families.

Students will commit to virtual or in-person learning for each 9-week grading period, but they’ll remain enrolled in their home campus without losing their spot. Virtual students may continue to pick up meals and have access to campus libraries and other services.

The district will continue to evaluate risk levels and transition as needed.