BELTON, TX — Belton ISD has pushed back the start of the 2020-2021 school year to September 8.
The district's board of trustees voted unanimously Monday to delay the first day after the Bell County Public Health District issued an order delaying in-person classes until after September 7.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued guidance saying health authorities were not allowed to issue sweeping orders closing schools for preventative measures. The guidance contradicts previously stated guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
“The majority of us rely on doctors’ advice and opinions on health safety matters on a regular basis,” said Superintendent Matt Smith. “The order from Bell County Public Health District resonates with me and while their authority may be questioned, I don’t want to underestimate the value of the opinion of medical professionals in our county that live here as well.”
The district says a recent survey found that 60% of families wanted a face-to-face return when school resumes. On the other hand, teachers said they would need more time to plan and prepare for online teaching.
“Teacher preparedness is weighing on my mind heavily,” Smith said. “We’re asking them to entirely change the way they deliver instruction to our students. If I don’t have teachers who feel well prepared and trained in order to make sure they can do what’s right for kids, we won’t have exceptional learning for those students.”
Flexibility and agility will continue to be necessary components for a successful 2020-2021 school year, Smith said.
“We’ve been rolling with the punches and we’ll continue to do so,” he said. “We’ll take advantage of every additional second this gives our teachers and staff the opportunity to be prepared to kick off the new school year, and hopefully it will also allow time for the rise in local cases of COVID-19 to slow.”
According to Belton ISD, the major changes to the academic calendar include:
- The first day of school for students is now Sept. 8 instead of Aug. 19.
- The first semester will extend into 2021, concluding on January 22.
- The last day of school for students will be June 9 instead of May 26.
- Graduation is moved from May 27 to June 10
- Thanksgiving/fall break, winter break, spring break and other student holidays would remain as previously scheduled.
Both Temple ISD and Waco ISD have also pushed the start of the school year back until September 8.