The West Orange-Cove ISD, along with Superintendent Dr. Rickie Harris and with assistance from the parents, have released the new schedule for the 2020-21 School Year. Dealing with the Covid-19 virus, the calendar is not your normal school year with school starting earlier than usual (August 12) and it includes a six week winter break. Supt. Harris issued the following letter.
During the first of May, Texas Commissioner of Education, Mike Morath, asked superintendents to begin exploring calendar options that would accommodate possible closures due to another outbreak of the Coronavirus. From that directive, our administration began that process. The administration developed, and the Board of Trustees approved, an updated calendar with a student start date of August 12th and an extended fall break that may be used as banked days in the event of school closure in the fall semester. Additionally, this calendar extends students’ time at home after major holidays, during which time many families get together from all over the country, which could cause a spike in the virus. We do understand that there are some disadvantages to this calendar: daycare, longer absence of in-person instruction, an earlier start date, etc. However, there are also advantages to this calendar: smoother dual-credit enrollment, having banked days in the event of a closure, students out of school during the middle of flu season, etc. As I told the Board of Trustees, I do not know all of the advantages and disadvantages to this calendar, and because of the unknown, I am sure there will be concerns and benefits that will arise, but we will address all issues with our students in mind.
During the winter break, the students will not be without instruction. All students in the district will have district-issued technology to use for online instruction. Also, the first week in December will be used as a time for voluntary tutorials for targeted students that need additional support. Additionally, all UIL academic and athletic activities will continue for our students even when they are not in school.
The larger question that everyone would like an answer to is, “What will school look like next year?” We are working hard to develop a plan that will keep everyone as safe as possible. We are not ready to release the particulars of the plan because we are awaiting more guidance from the Texas Education Agency. Our goal is to meet as many of the CDC’s recommendations as possible. With that being said, school will not look the same as it always has in the past. For example, we may possibly have staggered start times and end times, abbreviated days, and at-home instruction days/times. It will be different, but it will be what is best for our students during this unprecedented time; therefore, we must all work to become accustomed to a new norm while providing a safe educational environment for our students. Thank you for your support and GO MUSTANGS!
Rickie R. Harris, Ed.D