Tuesday, July 14, 2020

District Seeks Input On Modified COVID-19 Response Calendar

Carroll school officials are seeking input on a COVID-19 Response Calendar before voting to consider altering the originally-adopted 2020-2021 school calendar. The proposed modified calendar does not include a change to the start date of August 17, but it does take the long breaks in October and February, as well as one bad weather day in April and makes them COVID-19 exchange days.

The exchange days are like bad weather days; if the district has to close due to COVID-19, the exchange days would become school days as needed.  If the district doesn’t need them, they remain school holidays or breaks. The modified calendar also has two weeks of COVID-19 exchange days added in June.

CISD will be accepting comments and questions about the proposed calendar until noon on June 15. Trustees hope to vote on the COVID-19 calendar at their June 15 meeting. A copy of the COVID-19 Response Calendar can be reviewed by clicking on CISD’s DRAFT COVID RESPONSE 2020-2021 Calendar.

The Administration and School Board started discussing options for the 2020-2021 school calendar following prompts from Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath for public schools to consider earlier start dates, periodic breaks in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak and intersessions for remediation. School officials discussed the challenges of changing the already-adopted start date as it relates to family vacations/plans, teacher contracts and preparation time for in-person instruction. There were also concerns that CISD would use the COVID-19 exchange weeks/breaks to take vacations or trips.

In visiting with other districts, CISD staff learned that neighboring districts did not intend to adopt a revised calendar, but instead may look at simply adding weeks in June should they be needed.

Dr. Janet McDade, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, reviewed calendars shown as examples by the Commissioner and discussed 2-3 options with the School Board in May. There did not seem to be a strong sentiment among the Board or Administration to change the start date and add long breaks, but there was some interest in considering time in June to make up for COVID-19 closures should it be necessary.

Dr. McDade said TEA has been extremely cooperative and lenient in granting waivers due to COVID-19 and is not requiring districts to alter their calendar. In turn, school officials believe if a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus happens, the district is now in a better position to pivot to online learning. Still, it seems prudent to plan for potential closures by looking at the Board-adopted calendar and making possible revisions.

McDade said the COVID-19 exchange days/weeks in June give local officials greater flexibility to respond to potential outbreaks during the 2020-2021 school year. The district is also proposing adding five minutes to the end of the school day for all elementary, intermediate and middle schools. This gives CISD some additional flexibility when it comes to managing unforeseen closures for either bad weather days or COVID-19.

Elementary schools would end at 3 p.m.; intermediate and middle schools would end at 3:45 p.m., if the COVID-19 Response Calendar is approved by Trustees. Schools are required to provide 75,600 minutes of instruction each year. The instructional minutes for secondary students in CISD already well exceeds the required amount, but school officials believe adding the five minutes at the end of each day for grades PK-8 is a good move to ensure greater flexibility. The additional five minutes per day gives CISD as many as three additional instructional days that would not have to be made up due to a COVID-19 outbreak/closure.

To submit a question or comment about the proposed calendar to CISD by the noon, June 15 deadline, please visit our Let’s Talk COVID-19 Response Calendar link.