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September 14, 2021Posted by Community Relations on 9/14/2021
As we enter our fourth week of the school year, I hope everyone has been able to enjoy many of the activities happening in GISD. Our fall athletic and fine arts programs are in full swing, and it is exciting to see our kids pursue their passions as they represent Georgetown ISD. I’m thankful for the work of our teachers, coaches, directors and sponsors for investing in our kids and working to keep our classrooms and programs thriving. I hope you will find the time to celebrate our kids. We’re excited to host open house events at campuses this fall. These events are a great opportunity to see the campus, meet your child’s teachers and learn more about your child’s campus community.
Last week, we shared a survey in Skyward and asked families to indicate their interest in enrolling students in a virtual learning program. That survey closes tonight at midnight. Action is only needed if you wish to express interest in a possible virtual learning program.
As you consider if virtual learning is right for you and your child, it’s important to consider a few things:
- The State has placed a 10% cap on enrollment for virtual learning programs.
- Enrollment in virtual learning would be a commitment for the entire school year, and students would not be permitted to participate in extracurricular activities that occur on campus.
- Students would be enrolled in courses with other virtual learning students from across the district; there will not be individual campus programs.
- Our ability to offer virtual learning is impacted by several factors, including staff interest. If we are able to move forward with virtual learning, most learning would occur asynchronously, where a student is not experiencing real-time, face-to-face instruction with their teacher.
- Some students interested in participating in virtual learning may not be eligible, as specific criteria for participation have been established by the legislature.
- GISD teachers won’t be required to support both in-person and long-term virtual instruction simultaneously. They also will not be forced into a long-term virtual teaching assignment.
- Legislation requires the district to monitor each virtual learning student’s success and allows districts to require a student to return to in-person instruction.
- If we decide to pursue a virtual learning option for 2021-22, we would work to launch it by early October.
Our team will be reviewing survey responses and will follow up regarding possible next steps for virtual learning soon.
Last week, we shared an update to our COVID protocols to include clarity around quarantine for students living with a COVID-confirmed individual. We want kids in school, but we also know that quarantine is a measure that helps prevent spread and appreciate your cooperation in that. Our goal is to have the right academic support for students experiencing extended absences while also understanding that teachers may have students absent for different amounts of time and all with different needs. Our district team and campus principals are working together to tackle these complexities. We’ll keep you updated as those processes are adjusted or redesigned.
The Texas legislature adopted HB4545 this summer, which includes new requirements for accelerated instruction practices for students that did not pass or take the Spring 2021 STAAR exams. Academic support for students will take various forms depending on the student’s grade level, campus, and specific academic needs. Our campuses will be collaborating with parents in this endeavor and will be sharing more information soon.
As I wrap up today’s information, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share with you my thoughts on the current COVID-19 infection rate in our community. Williamson County shared today that COVID cases among youth ages 5-17 account for the highest percentage of daily case increases. I want to encourage all of us - staff, students, and families - to remain vigilant in utilizing the mitigating measures and following GISD protocols. It takes a unified effort to keep our students and staff safe and our campuses and classrooms open.
I love this community, and I’m thankful for you.
With much gratitude,
Georgetown ISD Superintendent
September 9, 2021; COVID Protocols UpdatePosted by Community Relations on 9/9/2021 4:30:00 PM
On Tuesday, we shared a new COVID-19 protocol developed in accordance with updated guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) regarding students with someone at home that tested positive for COVID-19. Since that time, our district and campus leaders have continued to examine the guidance and have decided to make an adjustment to its implementation.
COVID IN THE HOME
When a student resides in the same household as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 but is not symptomatic or positive themselves, the student will not be able to return to school until one of the following occurs:
- The student remains home to self-isolate for 10 days following their family member's symptom onset or positive test date, whichever is first. The student may test on Day 11 and return to school with a negative COVID-19 test result if they remain asymptomatic.
- A student does not need to test to return to school if they remain home to self-isolate for a period equal to 10 days plus 10 days following the family member's onset of symptoms or confirmed positive test (a minimum of 20 days from the family member's first day of symptoms/positive test).
It’s important to note that if the student becomes symptomatic during the stay-at-home period, they must stay home and follow the guidelines as a "presumed positive" case as outlined in the student process map.
INFORMATION REGARDING COVID TESTING
If the need for tests arises for your family, we want to be sure you’re aware that the Williamson County Cities and Health District website is a resource to locate free COVID testing sites in Williamson County. Additionally, the GISD Health & Wellness Center (located next to Richarte HS) can also offer COVID tests. You can call them at: 512-688-6250 to schedule an appointment.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we navigate guidance and strive to implement it in a manner that keeps our students and staff as healthy as possible while allowing classrooms and campuses to remain open for students that are able and choose to be at school. This pandemic brings so many challenges to all of us, and we’re grateful for your feedback and grace as we seek to make decisions that are best for our students, our staff, and our community.
September. 7, 2021: Family & Staff UpdatePosted by Community Relations on 9/7/2021
I hope you got some rest over the three-day holiday weekend. As we end day #13 of the school year, I am seeing a lot of evidence of student learning and success on display - in the classroom, the athletic field, and through other extracurricular programs. It’s always inspiring to see students and teachers in action, but it’s especially meaningful now when it’s occurring amidst the realities that a pandemic brings to our campuses and community.
I have a few updates to share today related to new COVID protocols and a possible option for virtual learning.
UPDATES TO COVID PROTOCOLS
We continue to monitor COVID’s impact on our campuses and in our classrooms very closely. With that in mind, we want to share a couple of updates to our COVID protocols which are also outlined in the student process map:
- TEA made an adjustment to their guidance relating to the quarantine of students that we will implement right away. Effective Wednesday, September 8, we’ll be requiring students with a confirmed positive case in their household to remain home from school and school activities until one of the following criteria are met:
- The campus nurse has confirmed with the family that the student has remained home to self-isolate for 10 days beyond the family member’s last day of illness
- The student has remained home to self-isolate for 7 days beyond the family member’s last day of illness with 1 negative PCR or Rapid Viral RNA COVID test for the student taken at least 5 days after the family member’s last day of illness.
- Our district team monitors the number of active cases in each classroom throughout GISD on a daily basis and are seeing spikes in a few areas. To help control the spread of the virus, we will implement additional safety protocols when a specific elementary classroom or cohort positivity rate reaches 15-25%. These additional measures would be short-term in an effort to mitigate spread in the classroom and could include things like consistently assigned seating, increased spacing among students, increased sanitization practices, and adjusted instructional strategies that limit student contact with each other. Secondary classrooms may require a different set of strategies, and we will be working on those with campus leaders soon.
While we are working hard to avoid the need to close a classroom, grade level, or campus, we know it’s a possibility and are monitoring for that. We are hopeful that these measures will support that effort. We also know that parents have the option to keep a student home from school when there has been a positive COVID-19 case in the student’s classroom. We support that decision, too, and will continue our work with families to meet their needs during absences.
While there is no one decision that will end the pandemic, I do believe it is important for everyone to be diligent with self-monitoring and keeping kids home who may be experiencing symptoms or have been in close contact with a lab-confirmed positive case.
New legislation was passed last week that creates an avenue for school districts to offer a long-term virtual learning program. As we work through what that could look like in Georgetown ISD, we need to gauge interest from our families. Starting tomorrow, families will be able to access a survey in Skyward to indicate interest in having your student(s) enrolled in virtual learning and staff can indicate interest in a virtual teaching assignment via a separate Google Form. It’s important to note that there are a number of factors involved in the district providing and students qualifying for virtual learning so I encourage you to look at those factors when you log in to review the survey and options tomorrow. Those families that indicate they are not interested in participating in the virtual program or that don’t respond to the survey will not be considered for the program. The form will close at midnight on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
Just as gauging student interest is necessary before we can proceed in designing the GISD virtual learning program, we’ll need to collect interest from staff as well. While it’s in no way an official commitment or agreement, staff that are interested in learning more about and/or serving students in the district’s virtual learning program should complete an interest form which will also be open until midnight on Tuesday, September 14.
It’s also important to note that there are a number of factors that could preclude us from being able to move forward with our district’s long-term virtual learning option, including the overall interest level of students and interest from staff to support it. If we are able to move forward with a virtual option, our intent is to launch it by early October.
In closing, I simply want to express my appreciation for the entire GISD community. We know this year has presented challenges unlike last and the landscape has changed significantly. What has not changed is our commitment to taking care of our students, families and staff. I am quite certain there will be lessons learned and adjustments made. As we approach every situation that COVID-19 presents, I hope you know that we will be here to walk each step beside you. I truly love this community.
With much gratitude,
Georgetown ISD Superintendent