West Orange-Cove Superintendent Dr. Rickie Harris has addressed many issues for the 2020-21 school year. He addressed the parents and guardians in the release below.
The district has been working extremely hard in preparation for the upcoming school year. The information below is a brief synopsis of that work. We are doing all that we can to ensure that we will provide the best educational setting for our students. We are planning with the safety of our students as our number one priority. As you will see below, we have received guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) regarding the at-home model. We are close to having that option complete. However, we have not received guidance for the in-person option. We have started working on the in-person model without guidance from TEA based on the CDC recommendations and have a working plan below. We will do our best to provide as safe an environment for students as possible. Yet under the current circumstances that we are facing, it will be very difficult to keep anyone from bringing the virus into our schools. As everyone has seen, we have only been able to have six days of summer workouts due to students receiving positive tests because of their activities or behaviors outside the school setting. As superintendent and a parent, I have great concerns about the in-person option, but please know we will do what is best for the students of West Orange-Cove CISD.
Safe-Start Task Force
West Orange-Cove CISD has organized a Safe-Start Task Force to address the myriad of issues associated with COVID-19. Working groups are creating plans in the areas of Health/Safety + events, instructional delivery, personnel, and operations. I have our full leadership team tackling the daunting task of creating processes and procedures so that we provide as much detail as possible for a safe start to the new school year. I have been awaiting essential guidance from state officials so that I know what West Orange-Cove CISD is expected to do, allowed to do, or restricted from doing when school resumes in August. Because of rapidly changing information pertaining to the spread of COVID-19 in our state, a delay in receiving guidance and instructions from the State of Texas authorities has forced the district to prepare multiple strategies and scenarios to be prepared for the various “what ifs” that might occur due to the virus.
Options for Education
On June 23, 2020, the Commissioner of Education confirmed that West Orange-Cove CISD must provide parents with options for the delivery of instruction to students that include a traditional, in-person school setting and/or home-based/online school. The information that the State of Texas provided related to instruction away from school was consistent with what we anticipated and have been preparing since the spring of the 2019-2020 school year. West Orange-Cove CISD will ask parents to choose in-person school or online school when registering students for classes beginning in mid-July so we can appropriately structure staffing for August.
WOCCISD and all other school districts look forward to the soon-to-be-released requirements and guidance from state officials regarding in-person school and measures that must be adhered to for the overall safety of students and staff to minimize the spread of the virus in our schools and, by extension, our communities. We are moving forward with our planning and preparations to offer the following instructional options:
On-Campus Instructional Model – Learning occurs in a traditional classroom setting with a teacher on campus. To accommodate the return of students to the classroom, the following includes some of the safety measures under consideration at this time:
- Weekly health screenings
- Daily temperature checks
- Reduction in student movement/transitions in buildings
- Physically distancing in classrooms, as feasible
- One-way hallways
- Lunch in alternative locations, including classrooms
- Mandatory use of face shields/masks for both staff and students provided by the district
- Limited sharing of school supplies/equipment
- Staggered arrival and release times
- Limited gatherings and events
- Reduced capacity on buses
Virtual School Model – Students are enrolled in a virtual campus and receive instruction in a completely online environment. This type of instruction may include various forms of digital and online learning, video lessons, or other digital learning tasks that students complete on their own. Some of the design considerations include the following components:
- Students will have a WOCCISD teacher, but the majority of learning and practice will be completed by the student at home, using resources provided by the teacher and WOCCISD
- All instruction will be delivered virtually
- Instruction will be supported by WOCCISD teachers
- Curriculum and resources are specifically designed for a virtual environment and aligned to district expectations/scope and sequence of the curriculum
- Students will be expected to participate in district/state assessments to document student learning and growth as required by the state
- The WOCCISD teacher will communicate daily learning expectations in the district learning management systems (Google Classroom/Edgenuity/Zoom/Imagine Learning)
- Daily progress can be made through student learning plans as defined by the teacher in the learning management system
- Scheduled instruction and interaction will be made available virtually by the teacher
- Students will turn in daily assignments to the teacher through the learning management systems (Google Classroom/Edgenuity/Zoom/Imagine Learning)
- Teachers will provide feedback to students and use district grading guidelines on all assignments
- Attendance will be taken daily to fulfill local and state requirements
- Learning may be synchronous or asynchronous methods as students follow a specific schedule designed to accommodate the virtual environment
- All related services will be provided through Zoom by WOCCISD
In the near future, you will be able to find specific plans for each campus under the COVID 19 tab on the district’s website. Receiving the additional guidance and requirements from the State of Texas regarding in-person health and safety protocols will be a critically important step for West Orange-Cove CISD to finalize our reopening plans, which we still intend to do before student online registration opens on July 15th. The district will remain in contact with our local public health department and will also seek their guidance and the status of community transmission of the virus in Orange County as we finalize decisions related to health and social distancing precautions for in-person school. Additionally, school districts are awaiting requirements and guidance from the State of Texas regarding fall student participation in UIL activities, such as athletics and fine arts; therefore, West Orange-Cove CISD cannot make decisions in these areas until the guidance is available.
Finally, we are receiving important questions and feedback from many parents and community members. However, there are questions we are unable to answer until plans are finalized. We will finalize our plans once we receive the requirements and guidance regarding in-person school from our state education officials. Once options are finalized, the district plans to communicate this important information via email, the web, social media, and by working with our media partners.