Return to School Plan for the 2020 - 2021 School Year

A Message from Dr. Cavazos

Published: September 4, 2020, 4:30 PM

Dear Arlington ISD parents and guardians,

I want to thank you for your patience, grace and flexibility over these past months. I said from the beginning of COVID-19 that the safety of students, staff and the community would be our highest priority and that we would issue re-opening plans based on science provided by our local public health authorities. Now, we’re ready to announce the next steps.

Last night, our Board of Trustees approved a waiver that will allow the district to offer in-person instruction with safety protocols recommended by Tarrant County Public Health from Monday, Sept. 28 to Friday, Oct. 9 on a hybrid schedule (students will attend in-person instruction on certain days) for families who choose in-person instruction.

Families who choose to continue virtual learning will be allowed to do so.

HOW WE GOT HERE:

While I’m sure you have many questions about what that means, let me first tell you how we got to this point. For weeks we’ve been telling you how for us to be able to begin in-person instruction we have to meet the metrics put in place by Tarrant County health officials. There is good news on this front:

  • The seven-day moving average of people who test positive is now below 10 percent.
  • The rate of cases reported in Tarrant County is now below 2,000 per week.
  • The seven-day moving average for COVID-like illnesses has been trending lower for more than two weeks.
  • The percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients is less than 10 percent.
  • While there haven’t been at least four weeks of data showing stable or declining case counts, we’re moving in that direction.
  • We’ve already submitted and had approved our plan for re-opening schools.

My goal is to open schools safely and to ensure that our opening is sustainable. That means limiting occupancy so that we can follow proper contact tracing procedures. When we return to in-person instruction, we expect there to be cases of COVID-19 that will disrupt activities. We want that disruption to be minimal. By following a hybrid model for a short time, we hope to sustain the opening as opposed to ongoing classroom or school closures followed by mandatory quarantine periods. We are aiming for sustainability during the hybrid period.

THE PLAN FOR VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION:

Do students have to return to school? No. Our robust online learning platform will continue for those students who prefer to learn virtually. That option will remain in place for the 2020-21 school year. Students will continue to receive the same core instruction as the students who are receiving face-to-face instruction. Meals will still be available from our 28 student-meal locations for those learning virtually.

THE PLAN FOR IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION:

Will school look “normal” for the students who are returning to in-person classes? No. Safety has been and will continue to be our top priority.

  • Masks are required for students in grades 1 - 12 and staff.
  • Masks are strongly encouraged for our younger learners in Pre-K and Kindergarten.
  • Social distancing guidelines will be in place.
  • All staff and students will participate in daily health screenings and temperature checks.
  • All students who opt for in-person instruction will follow a hybrid schedule from September 28 – October 9 so they will only be on campus on certain days.
  • Beginning October 13, elementary and junior high schools will provide face-to-face instruction each weekday for families who select this option. High schools will remain in a hybrid model for those who select in-person instruction.

There is signage throughout each campus with reminders about masks, hand washing and social distancing. Following the protocols is the best way to ensure that in-person instruction will be successful and sustainable. That’s the only way it’s going to work.

WHAT'S NEXT?

After the hybrid phase, elementary and junior high schools will return to daily in-person instruction for any parents who select that option. A new survey will be sent from your child’s campus in the coming days where you will select your preference for virtual or in-person instruction.

When we return to campus, we know there will be cases of COVID-19. There have been and will continue to be cases in the Arlington ISD. When it happens, we will follow the safety protocols and students and teachers will be required to self-quarantine.

We’re hopeful that our COVID cases remain low; however, in the event of a spike in cases, we will re-visit public health guidance.

Tarrant County Public Health has created a dashboard that is specific to the Arlington ISD that will allow you to view public health recommendations for our district.

HOW THE MODEL WORKS:

We will launch a hybrid in-person learning schedule for Pre-K – 12 students beginning September 28. Students will attend on their scheduled days based on their surname (A-L or M-Z) twice per week and on designated Fridays. You will receive direct communication from your child’s campus with schedule information.

In mid-August, we began daily in-person learning for students in the following programs: Alternate Curriculum, Academic and Behavior Learning Environment (ABLE), Early Childhood for Special Education (ECSE), and Regional Day School Program for the Deaf at Miller ES (RDSPD). Beginning on September 28, students will attend full-day instruction. Additional adjustments will be made as needed.

Thank you again for your patience as we continue to make positive strides. With your help, that trend will continue.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marcelo Cavazos
Superintendent

Estimados padres y tutores de Arlington ISD:

Deseo agradecerles por su paciencia, gracia y flexibilidad durante estos últimos meses. Dije desde el comienzo de COVID-19 que la seguridad de los estudiantes, el personal y la comunidad sería nuestra máxima prioridad y que emitiríamos planes de reapertura basados ​​en la ciencia proporcionados por nuestras autoridades locales de salud pública. Ahora, estamos listos para anunciar los próximos pasos.

Anoche, nuestra Mesa Directiva aprobó una exención que permitirá al distrito ofrecer instrucción en persona con protocolos de seguridad recomendados por el Departamento de Salud Pública del Condado de Tarrant desde el lunes, 28 de septiembre hasta el viernes, 9 de octubre en horario mezclado (los estudiantes recibirán instrucción en persona ciertos días) para las familias que escojan clases en persona.

Las familias que opten por continuar aprendiendo en línea podrán hacerlo.

Como llegamos aquí:

Si bien estoy seguro de que tiene muchas preguntas sobre lo que eso significa, primero permítame decirle cómo llegamos a este punto. Durante semanas les hemos estado diciendo cómo, para que podamos comenzar la instrucción en persona, tenemos que cumplir con las métricas establecidas por los funcionarios de salud del Condado de Tarrant. Hay buenas noticias en este respecto.

  • El promedio móvil de siete días de personas que dan positivo en la prueba está ahora por debajo del 10 por ciento.
  • La tasa de casos reportados en el Condado de Tarrant ahora está por debajo de 2,000 por semana.
  • El promedio móvil de siete días para enfermedades similares a COVID ha tenido una tendencia a la baja durante más de dos semanas.
  • El porcentaje de camas de hospital ocupadas por pacientes con COVID-19 es menos del 10 por ciento.
  • Si bien no ha habido al menos cuatro semanas de datos que muestren recuentos de casos estables o en disminución, nos estamos moviendo en esa dirección.
  • Ya enviamos y aprobamos nuestro plan para reabrir las escuelas.

Mi objetivo es abrir escuelas de forma segura y garantizar que nuestra apertura sea sostenible. Eso significa limitar la cantidad de personas para que podamos seguir los procedimientos adecuados de rastreo de contactos. Cuando regresemos a la instrucción en persona, esperamos que haya casos de COVID-19 que interrumpan las actividades. Queremos que esa interrupción sea mínima. Al seguir un modelo mezclado durante un corto periodo, esperamos mantener la apertura en lugar de cierres de clases continuos o escuelas seguidos de períodos de cuarentena obligatorios. Nuestro objetivo es la sostenibilidad durante el período de instrucción mezclada.

El plan de instrucción en línea:

¿Los estudiantes tienen que regresar a la escuela? No. Nuestra sólida plataforma de aprendizaje en línea continuará para aquellos estudiantes que prefieren aprender virtualmente. Esa opción permanecerá vigente durante el año escolar 2020-21. Los estudiantes continuarán recibiendo la misma instrucción básica que los estudiantes que están recibiendo instrucción en persona. Las comidas seguirán estando disponibles en nuestras 28 ubicaciones para recoger comidas para estudiantes para aquellos que están aprendiendo en línea.

El plan para la instrucción en persona:

¿La escuela se verá “normal” para los estudiantes que regresan a clases presenciales? No. La seguridad ha sido y seguirá siendo nuestra principal prioridad.

  • Se requieren mascarillas para los estudiantes de los grados 1 al 12 y para el personal.
  • Se recomienda encarecidamente el uso de mascarillas para nuestros estudiantes más jóvenes en Pre-K y Kindergarten.
  • Se implementarán pautas para el distanciamiento social.
  • Todo el personal y los estudiantes participarán en exámenes de salud y toma de temperatura a diario.
  • Todos los estudiantes que opten por la instrucción en persona seguirán un horario mezclado del 28 de septiembre al 9 de octubre, por lo que solo estarán en la escuela en ciertos días.
  • A partir del 13 de octubre, las escuelas primarias y secundarias brindarán instrucción en persona todos los días de la semana para las familias que elijan esta opción. Las escuelas preparatorias permanecerán en un modelo híbrido para aquellos que seleccionan la instrucción en persona.

Hay letreros en cada escuela con recordatorios sobre el uso de mascarillas, lavado de manos y el distanciamiento social. Seguir los protocolos es la mejor manera de garantizar que la instrucción en persona sea exitosa y sostenible. Esa es la única forma en que va a funcionar.

¿Que sigue?

Después de la fase mezclada, las escuelas primarias y secundarias volverán a recibir instrucción diaria en persona para los padres que elijan esa opción. Se enviará una nueva encuesta desde la escuela de su hijo en los próximos días, donde usted seleccionará la preferencia de instrucción en línea o en persona.

Cuando regresemos a la escuela, sabemos que habrá casos de COVID-19. Ha habido y seguirá habiendo casos en Arlington ISD. Cuando suceda, seguiremos los protocolos de seguridad y los estudiantes y maestros deberán ponerse en cuarentena.

Esperamos que nuestros casos de COVID sigan siendo bajos; sin embargo, en el caso de un aumento en los casos, volveremos a visitar la guía de salud pública.

Salud Pública del Condado de Tarrant ha creado un tablero que es específico para Arlington ISD que le permitirá ver las recomendaciones de salud pública para nuestro distrito.

Cómo funciona el modelo:

Lanzaremos un horario de aprendizaje mezclado en persona para estudiantes de Pre-K a 12 a partir del 28 de septiembre. Los estudiantes asistirán en sus días programados según su apellido (A-L o M-Z) dos veces por semana y los viernes según sea designado. Recibirá comunicación directa de la escuela de su hijo con información sobre el horario.

A mediados de agosto, comenzamos el aprendizaje a diario en persona para los estudiantes en los siguientes programas: plan de estudios alternativo, entorno de aprendizaje académico y conductual (ABLE), educación infantil temprana para educación especial (ECSE) y programa regional de escuela diurna para sordos en Miller ES (RDSPD). A partir del 28 de septiembre, los estudiantes asistirán a clases el día completo. Se realizarán ajustes adicionales según sea necesario.

Gracias nuevamente por su paciencia mientras seguimos avanzando positivamente. Con su ayuda, esa tendencia continuará.

Atentamente,

Dr. Marcelo Cavazos
Superintendente

AISD BOARD MEETINGS & PRESENTATIONS

Special Education PARENT RESOURCES

Frequently Asked Questions

My child has currently been coming to school face to face for Monday through Thursday for half a day.  Is this changing?

If your child has currently been attending school already on a shortened schedule, they will soon be able to attend Monday through Friday for a full day of school.  Check with your child’s teacher for verification if unsure.

My child is in special education in high school.  I am confused about what her schedule will look like for the next several weeks.  Can you explain it to me?

Some high school special education students in specialized classes will begin going back to school full time on Monday, September 28th. The remainder of students will return to classes on the 28th following the hybrid schedule, however, all special education students will be eligible to attend full-day instruction Monday through Friday beginning October 13th.   You should have been contacted by one of your student’s teachers to confirm their return schedule, however, if you have questions you should contact your student’s teacher or Area Curriculum Coordinator for confirmation.  Of course, parents still have the option to continue with virtual instruction for their student if that is their choice.

 If my child and some of his classmates come back to school on September 28th, but the rest of the class will continue to learn virtually how will the teacher be able to teach both groups at the same time?

All AISD teachers participated in training enabling them to provide instruction to their in-class and virtual students simultaneously. These lessons might be in the form of concurrent lessons, flipped learning or station rotations.  Teachers have been shown how to consciously guide all their students so that they are providing the same resources and assignments to their face to face students as their remote students in a more natural and deliberate flow.

I have decided I want my child to continue with virtual learning, but it has been a struggle for a variety of reasons.  Any suggestions?  If I decide to change my mind at some point, will that be a problem?

Parents should consult with their child’s teacher to discuss their specific concerns. If you decide that you would like to send your child back to school at any time, please contact your child’s special education teacher.  If your child is eligible for transportation, it will take about 5 days for the bus to begin.

What is the procedure for students and parents for the COVID-19 questionnaire? Will the parents have to fill it out every morning or just once a week?

All students or parents of students will answer the COVID-19 screening question daily prior to entry to the building. Temperature will be taken for all individuals as they enter the building and safety precautions will be followed to ensure that each child’s well-being is first and foremost a top priority on each and every AISD campus.

I have noticed that my child is not getting the same amount of minutes of instruction that we agreed to in their ARD.   Should we go back to ARD?

No, in the virtual setting, there are multiple opportunities to provide IEP support within either the face to face or virtual framework. Consider opportunities for office hours, asynchronous instruction, phone contact, synchronous individual work, or synchronous small groups.  The assistance of the teaching assistant to provide practice and remediation also exists, so there are multiple opportunities for minutes outside of the synchronous instruction.

Now that school is back in session, either virtually or for some face to face, will my upcoming ARD be face to face?  What if I want to meet my child’s teacher face to face?

At this time, district guidelines are not allowing us to hold face to face meetings. If parents are concerned about confidentiality, we can hold meetings using Microsoft Teams or Zoom which have been quite successful in many, many meetings since AISD went to virtual learning in March.  Parents can also opt to hold their ARD meetings by phone. 

Will my child still receive their accommodations even if they are learning in a virtual environment?

Yes, absolutely. Your child’s accommodations will be sent electronically to each of their teachers, and they will return a receipt acknowledging that they have received those accommodations.

Will attendance and grades be taken virtually?

Yes.  They will be taken according to District guidelines.

 

 

When will school start and when will my child go back to school?

School will begin on August 17th for all students.  The majority of AISD students will attend school virtually and a very small population of special education students will begin face-to-face learning on August 17th.  Parents of students who attend classes for Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE), ABLE, Alt Curriculum and Deaf Education at Miller Elementary will be contacted and given the choice as to whether they would like to send their students for face to face classes on the 17th or continue with virtual learning at this time.  They will attend Monday through Thursday for a period of 3-4 hours of core instruction depending on their grade level and will be required to complete fine arts, PE and electives virtually on Fridays. 

After 4 weeks, TEA has given school boards the opportunity to re-evaluate whether to offer a solely remote instructional setting if that is deemed needed for the health and safety of students, teachers, staff and parents or to expand the number of students attending in-person and in which capacity they will attend.

I would like to ask for an evaluation for my child for special education?  Can I still do that if we’re not in school?

Yes, you can.  That process has not changed.  You will need to contact your child’s school either by phone or by email and leave a message that you are requesting an evaluation for special education for your child.  Please be sure to leave your name and telephone number and the name of your child.  The message should be directed to the Assistant Principal, rather than your child’s teacher.

If we’re in school virtually, how can my child get his her related or instructional services such as Occupational/Physical or Speech Therapy?

Once school begins on the 17th, we will begin setting up appointments with you to bring your child to his/her school so that they can meet with their therapist and receive services.  Some services, such as Speech Therapy may be delivered through Teletherapy. Your child’s provider will be in touch with you to get those appointments set.

What does my child do if they need assistance with their assignments or can’t keep up with their classwork?

Although your children will be receiving their lessons virtually as they did from March through the end of May, you will see some changes in the virtual instruction. Teachers will return to school in August and receive intensive instruction on how to provide teaching and learning opportunities for their students at the same time while not in the same place (synchronous learning).  Teachers will have the opportunity to record themselves and will be providing authentic lessons to their students. Students will have multiple opportunities to engage in new content, process new learning, and demonstrate their mastery of learning objectives. Your child will then be responsible for completing assignments at a later time in the day (asynchronous learning).  If your child needs assistance, the teacher should be notified immediately.  They will be holding office hours which you will be made aware of.  If your child receives support from the special education department, those teachers will be available with office hours as well.  Please do not hesitate to call.

Will my children get actual grades on their work?  Will attendance be taken every day? 

Students will have daily assignments and grading practices will align with district expectations.  There will also be attendance requirements.

I have more than one child and only one computer at home.  Will technology be available for this fall again?

Yes, you can request a technology device on the technology resources section of the AISD webpage.  Also, the week of Aug. 10-14 will be a collection and redistribution of technology at the campus level.

What if my child won’t wear a mask when we come back to school face to face?

The district will follow strict safety protocols.  Your child will be required to wear a mask.    If you are concerned that this will be a problem for your child, then please begin to start some daily practice now.

What safety measures will be in place once all students return to school?

Each campus will be equipped with a care kit including no-contact thermometers, disinfectant, hand sanitizer, gloves, face masks and face shields.  Visitors to the campus will be by appointment only beyond the office and signage will be in place on the campus.  Each student will be required to wear a face mask and social distancing will be in place.  The safety of all students, staff and parents is the number one priority of our district.

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