Dayton ISD superintendent discusses changes and concerns in letter to families

Dear DISD Families,

I hope and pray your families are all safe and practicing social distancing. I know how hard it is having the children at home. I have three grandchildren and I listen to their frustrations daily. I do understand the worry of sending essential workers out into this pandemic. My daughter is a Registered Nurse in ICU at a San Antonio Hospital. Daily, I pray for her and others that are trying to serve, support, heal, and protect others. Knowing the days that she is off, she is providing lessons for her two children. Talking to her daily along with my son’s family, I realize how difficult remote learning can be. Thank you for your flexibility, patience, and support during this challenging time.

Here are some questions that I have gotten over the last several days. We continue to get guidance from Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the United States Department of Education and things continue to change rapidly for all school districts. As promised, I will update and answer as many questions as possible:

  1. Packet Pick Up– Over the last 3 weeks, we have been providing packet pick-ups on Monday mornings. After that, we have implemented ‘self-serve’ bins that are in a covered area and where security cameras can provide safety for those who need packets. Those self-serve bins are at Richter Elementary for PreK-8th grades and at DHS (the cafeteria entrance). Starting this Monday (April 13), for the safety of our staff, we will only have self-serve bins available. New packets will be put out every Monday morning and will be available until around 1 p.m. on Friday. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your principal or child’s teachers. We are here to assist you in any way we can.
  2. Who can I thank for the additional school supplies, games, cards, puzzles, etc.? The last three weeks our staff have passed out school supplies, games, playing cards, flash cards, and puzzles until all supplies were gone during the packet pick-ups. Local churches and businesses along with various individual families have helped with those supplies. We are greatly appreciative of those supplies!
  3. These are questions/concerns about assignments and grading that I have gotten. “My child is NOT taking his assignments seriously, what can I do?” “I have 5 children and I am overwhelmed by the amount of assignments, please help.” “My child is finishing his assignment in 10 minutes and needs more things to do.” Since our closure, we have been working on how to approach the grading issue for the purposes of graduating our seniors, promoting students, and awarding credits. Our focus has been on developing a system that is fair and does not penalize students and families, as we know that many are facing difficult circumstances trying to balance work, family, and home learning during this unprecedented time.
    1. Do students need to do the assignments? Yes! Texas Education Agency (TEA) is very clear in their directives to the school districts that learning MUST continue. It is important that students take these assignments seriously and do their best AND complete them. As we get more guidance from the State, we will continue to make small changes to the instruction to meet the requirements of TEA. We will also continue to update you on any changes that are made along the way.
    1. If children are NOT taking the assignments seriously, then remind them that academic progress and participation will be looked at in order to be promoted. I also suggest that you reach out to your child’s teacher(s) and counselor. They can also give you some guidance.
    1. If you are overwhelmed- Breathe, we are all in this together. Let us know how we can help. We continue to tweak, change, add, and delete ways that we can make things better for our families. Each family has a different need. Remember, we cannot help, if we do not know your needs.
    1. If you child is finishing assignments fast- In the classroom, our teachers have a strategy called “What Next”. Basically, it gives students options on what to work on next after they finish an assignment. Parent, you might want to consider having some “What Next” strategies. Here are a few options:
      1. Utilize the Newsletter- We have put out 3 Newsletters so far. Every Monday, we send them out via Skyward emails and then post them on the DISD website. Each Newsletter is full of ‘virtual’ field trips, P.E. lessons, reading information, technology information, etc. You can find them on the home page under Remote Learning, then click on ‘General Information’ then on the Newspaper Icon.
      1. Read- This is always an option.  Our librarians from all of our campuses have given some wonderful reading options on our weekly Newsletters.
      1. Email your child’s teacher- This is your BEST way to get some additional activities, suggestions, and lessons.
    1. What are the DHS Graduation Plans? As our world continues to change daily and the future is unknown, we are planning for our graduates. Dayton High School is planning a virtual graduation ceremony.  Once safety and health concerns are lifted and we are allowed to have large gatherings, a graduation ceremony will be held. So stay tuned and know that DHS Principal, Geoff McCracken, will continue to update all seniors and their families. If you have any questions, then please contact him via email.
  1. Is there going to be ‘virtual tryouts’? Yes, our DHS Dazzlers and WWJH Sparklers will be holding virtual tryouts. If you have any questions please contact DHS Dazzler Sponsor Mrs. Shayann Johnson @  The WWJH Sparkler Sponsor is Mrs. Rebecca Zurcher @  Both of their flyers will be posted on their campus’ websites.
  2. Where can I find out about using my child’s Xbox for remote learning? The instructions were in this week’s Newsletter that was sent out on Monday. We have posted all of our weekly Newsletters on our website. The particular Newsletter that has this information is issue 3.
  3. Are you continuing with the Grab-n-Go meals? DISD will continue to prepare and give out these ‘Grab-n-Go meals as long as we can. Safety for our students, staff, and community is always on our minds. They have posted a weekly menu on our home page of the district’s website. I am greatly appreciative of our Child Nutrition staff members as they have remained devoted to serving our children.

We are operating in a world that is far from perfect at this time. While there is expectations that students participate in the Remote Learning, either online or via the paper packets, we do not want this to be an additional thing to stress over. Please know that your child’s teacher, campus principal, or school counselor are available to work with you and your child through this process.

Stay safe, practice social distancing, take care of each other and know we are here for you. God Bless your family.

Dr. Jessica Johnson, superintendent of Dayton ISD

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