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Waco ISD considering pushing start of school year back by three weeks

Waco ISD
Posted at 5:03 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 00:02:03-04

WACO, TX — Waco ISD is considering a school calendar change that would push the first day back by three weeks.

The proposed calendar change would push the first day of school back to September 8. The school year would wrap up on June 10. As of now, the school year will begin on August 18 and end on May 27.

Student and staff holidays would remain the same.

The school board will discuss the change during its next board meeting on July 23.

The district said it is still finalizing its return-to-school plans. However, families will be able to choose between full-time in-person instruction and full-time remote instruction.

“Beginning in June, I convened a task force of educators, campus leaders, district administrators and community members to help us develop a plan for next school year that fully reflects the unique needs of our families,” Kincannon said. “The result is a plan that focuses on the safety of our students and staff while complying with the state’s mandates – at least as they exist today.”

According to a survey conducted by the district, 67.3% of families and 62.5% of teachers said that they were somewhat or very uncomfortable about schools reopening for in-person instruction.

From a range of instructional options, including both remote and in-person instruction as well as several hybrid options, 33.8% of families and 22.4% of teachers said that they would prefer fully remote instruction.

“One thing is clear,” Kincannon said. “Whether our families choose in-person or remote instruction, this school year will be unlike any other year. Even our remote instruction will be different than what our students experienced this past spring.”

District officials say $2.5 million has been invested in devices for students this summer. Several initiatives are also underway to expand Internet access for students, including a partnership with the Waco Housing Authority to expand access at Estella Maxey Place, Kate Ross Homes and South Terrace Apartments.

Students who choose to learn online will access updated curriculum through new district-wide learning management systems.

Students who attend class on campus will experience a number of changes, including daily temperature screenings extra hand santizing stations. Masks will be required for all students and staff when they are in shared spaces.

To help promote social distancing, signage will also be added, and spaces are being reconfigured.

“There are significant logistical and operational details that still need to be worked out, and at the same time, the current spread of the virus in our community is deeply worrisome,” Kincannon said. “As a result, I am recommending that we wait to start school until after Labor Day. The additional time will help us implement important health and safety measures as well as provide additional professional development for our staff. It might also provide some time for the rapid increase in cases to slow.”

Families will be able to select either in-person or remote learning on July 27 as part of the registration process for the upcoming school year. Families that have already registered will receive an email with instructions on how to make their selections.

Families would need to commit to the style of learning for at least a six-week grading period. If a family wishes to change, it must be made at least two weeks before the start of the grading period.

A virtual town hall will be held for families to ask questions at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.