Brazos Valley SBOE rep discusses what school will look like this fall

Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 5:24 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Texas parents and students still don’t know exactly what school will look like for students heading back this fall, and that is because the Texas Education Agency doesn’t either. Guidance was set to be released on Tuesday, as of Thursday, ISDs are awaiting those answers before creating their own back-to-school plans.

Barbara Cargill, the District 8 representative on the State Board of Education, joined First News at Four to discuss.

“It is going to look very different according to the school district,” said Cargill. She listed four options: in-person schooling, Texas Virtual School, and two remote school options (synchronous and asynchronous, a slight difference in timing flexibility of the lessons).

Notably, two of those options require some level of at-home infrastructure for students, including internet access and a reliable device on which to access schoolwork.

“That’s where the school districts are going to have to step in and be creative,” Cargill said. “They could provide handouts of instructional materials... There was another school district that used a school bus as a hot spot.” “It’s not easy for every single student to have that access,” said Cargill.

Currently, schools receive funding based on classroom attendance. Cargill says that a version of this tallying will have to continue, even in a virtual school setting.

“There is going to have to be some type of attendance measure,” said Cargill. “Schools will, unfortunately, be forced to turn that in so that they can receive the funding they need.”

Furthermore, many working parents rely on school as a de facto child care. Gov. Greg Abbott told KBTX that, just like businesses, schools will have to be shut down immediately if there is a confirmed positive COVID-19 case in its walls. Cargill says this inconvenience to parents has been considered at length, but a better option hasn’t been found.

“The number one thing on everyone’s mind is student safety: if there is a reported COVID case, parents will be notified immediately,” said Cargill. “All I can say to parents is be prepared.”

As for the STAAR test, Cargill says that’s the question not only on parents’ minds but on the board’s as well.

“Right now there are plans for the STAAR test to continue; there has to be some kind of accountability,” said Cargill. She says the knowledge it would provide is necessary to gauge how students are adjusting to the new normal schooling. “There is a lot of data collected about how far our students have fallen behind or could fall… As far as what it will look like, it’s hard to say right now.”

Cargill and her fellow SBOE members are participating in four days of meetings next week, and she says she expects to know much more afterward. For the full segment with Cargill, see the video player above.

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