LETTER TO EDITOR: Dayton ISD working to follow TEA guidelines for next school year

Dear Dayton ISD Families,

I pray and hope all of you are doing well and staying safe. As promised, after getting new information and guidance from the state and local entities, our Administrative Team has been working long hours to make the best informed decisions for the reopening of schools.

TEA has given school districts mandates and requirements in four different areas: PROVIDE NOTICE: Requirements for parental and public notices; PREVENT: Required practices to prevent the virus from entering the school; RESPOND: Required practices to respond to a lab-confirmed case in the school; and MITIGATE: Recommended and required practices to reduce likely spread inside the school. Please note that as I communicate with all stakeholders, that it is vital that you continue to read any new parent letters and continue to check our website for updates.

So, ‘AS OF TODAY’ these are our plans. Just remember that things are changing weekly sometimes daily and we might have to make adjustments to the best laid plans.

  1. What can you tell me about the Remote Learning platform? First, let me say that our remote learning will be different in many ways. Grades will be taken and the lessons will be more challenging to align with face-to-face instruction. Students who select to remain at home will engage in learning activities that are primarily delivered through an online Learning Management System (LMS). Dayton ISD has chosen Google Classroom as our LMS. Live and/or videoed, teacher-led instruction will be scheduled throughout the day to expand students’ opportunities to engage with content and interact with teachers. Daily student participation in the learning activities will be required. Instructional time will also be dedicated for independent learning activities. A structured schedule will be provided to students indicating required times for participation.  Remote instruction will be designed for mastery of student learning outcomes based on the academic standards called the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for each content area. This is what I can tell you (as of today)…
  • Available for students in Prekindergarten through Grade 12
  • Student participation required 5 full days per week
  • A mixture of teacher-led instruction and asynchronous learning (Students learn from instruction that is not being delivered live.)
  • Instruction provided by Dayton ISD teachers/staff
  • Instruction in core content and in many elective areas
  • District curriculum, unit sequencing and pacing of instruction will align to the face-to-face instruction so that all students are receiving similar lessons
  • Social-emotional support will be available
  • Accommodations and support services provided
  1. What Social and Emotional Well-Being considerations and/or info can you give me?  Students’ social and emotional well-being are a top priority. Together, schools and families can support your child during this challenging time. With the endless COVID coverage, it is natural for your child to experience some changes in behavior and mood. Counselors and staff will continue to work closely with families and students to ease the stress. Keeping routines predictable, sharing COVID facts that are age-appropriate, making time to listen and share feelings, and reaching out to us for support are all important. We are here for you and your child(ren).
  2. Will there be Advanced Academics in the core classes for WWJH for those who choose on-line?  Yes, we plan to offer Advanced Academic core classes for WWJH for those who choose Online Learning and for those who will go face-to-face at school. Both groups will have the same opportunity for these classes.
  3. If I select to go remote at the start of the school year on the survey, am I bound to that for the full year? This was actually a question that was specifically answered and updated late last week by TEA. Local districts may ask their parents to commit to either on campus or remote instruction for their students for planning purposes. However, parents can change their minds up to two weeks prior to the first day of school. Our survey that just ended was for planning purposes. We will be sending out a commitment form that must be filled out and returned.  The commitment form will be sent out to parents via Skyward and will be also on our website. Parents will have from July 20 until July 30 at 8:00 a.m. to change their minds. If after you have submitted your form and decide to change your mind, then you must NOTIFY your children’s campuses of the change by July 30. If a parent selects to go remote, then the student must stay remote or online for the entire grading period. Families who choose online learning may elect to return to face-to-face classes at the beginning of the new grading period. This is one of TEA’s requirements.
  4. Will there be a difference in grading from the two different learning platforms? All student work, regardless if completed in a face-to-face setting or Online will be graded on the same standards and at the same frequency. Our grading policy is adopted by the School Board. 
  5. Will students and staff wear masks upon returning to school in August? As of today, Governor Abbott has issued the wearing of masks for anyone over the age of 10. Schools are expected to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order for wearing masks or face shields, where this is most developmentally appropriate. Therefore, all students 4th grade and up must wear masks. Students in classes below 4th grade wearing masks will be optional during the school day.  All adults are required to wear masks and/or face shields when in the building, classroom, and/or office with others. Exceptions to this requirement include lunch breaks with appropriate social distancing. Classroom teachers may use face shields and social distancing when providing direct instruction in the classroom. During classroom monitoring and circulations, masks are required.  All students will be required to wear masks when riding the bus. FYI- It is recommended that masks be rotated and thoroughly cleaned daily.  Sharing of masks with other family members is extremely risky and discouraged.
  6. Will there be visitors allowed on the campuses? There will be very limited visitors allowed on campuses. According to TEA, before visitors are allowed onto campuses, school systems must screen all visitors to determine if the visitors have COVID-19 symptoms or are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and, if so, they must remain off campus until they meet the criteria for re-entry. Traditional campus events such as Open House, Parent Nights, eating breakfast/lunch etc., will be temporarily suspended. Once the COVID situation has flat lined, we will reevaluate how to proceed with these activities.

This saddens Dayton ISD as we have always welcomed parents, volunteers, and have always embraced an open-door policy. However, to keep our students and staff safe/ healthy we will comply with these orders. We look forward to the day that these protocols will not be needed.

  1. Will there be screening be required for students and staff? There are two protocols, one for students and one for staff.  First, let us talk about students. TEA states “Parents must ensure they do not send a child to school on campus if the child has COVID-19

Symptoms or is lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and instead should opt to receive remote instruction until the required protocols for re-entry are met.” For staff members, school systems must require teachers and staff to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms before coming onto campus each day.

  1. What additional safety measures is Dayton ISD taking? Students and staff are required to use hand sanitizer when entering a bus, building, classroom, and/or office. Frequent handwashing and sanitizing will also be incorporated in the daily schedules. Buses, classrooms, and other common areas within the school will be thoroughly disinfected daily and deep cleaning schedules will be regularly conducted.

Staff and students will maintain six feet of social distancing in indoor and outdoor settings, to the extent possible. Classrooms will be arranged to allow for space between seating areas, as feasible, and transitions will be limited in the elementary campuses. Staggered lunch times along with passing periods will be used. Students will be assigned to classroom and student cohorts to minimize their interactions with others.

Dayton ISD is planning additional safety measures and will share these protocols with students, parents, and staff in detail before school starts.

  1. How do I change my email and/or contact information?  Dayton ISD provides a parent portal called Skyward Family Access. You can update your information via that portal at any time. It is very important that all information be kept up to date. For more information, please contact technology dept. @ 936-258-2667.
  2. Will Proof of Residency (PoR) be all online and required? Yes, it is an annual requirement as per the state. This year, we will all be online just like we had it in May. The window for our PoR will be July 20- July 31. You will be able to scan and upload the necessary documents and not have to come ‘in person’ this year. If you need assistance, please contact our technology dept. @ 936-258-2667.

As we continue our pandemic journey together, words cannot express just how grateful I am to have such an amazing Administrative Team, supportive School Board and wonderful partnerships with parents. We are working hard to review on-going and constantly changing guidelines closely and will be finalizing our 2020-21 Back-to-School Reopening plan. We are going through each item making sure that our plan aligns with the Texas Education Agency’s directives regarding the health and safety of our students and staff. Our hope is to get this plan out to you late next week. We will share the reopening plan via Skyward parent emails, on our website, and through the local media. This plan will be your primary source of information for health and safety guidelines as it relates to On-Campus Instruction, details about how Remote Learning will look, etc. We will also be posting a (FAQ) Frequently Asked Questions. Giving children the option of either going face-to-face or remote allows everyone to make the best choice for their families while still keeping everyone as safe as possible.  Please remember that everything is “as of today”.  Thank you for your continued support, patience, and understanding. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to email me or our administrative team.

God Bless and Stay Safe,

Dr. J.

Jessica Johnson, superintendent of Dayton ISD

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