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Huntsville ISD announces fall class plans

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 5:49 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Texas (KBTX) -

Learning will look different in Huntsville ISD this fall. As COVID-19 cases grow in the state and Walker County, the district has announced plans for what school education will look like.

Students will have three options for learning when they return for classes this fall.

The first one is a traditional model which will include smaller class sizes, social distancing and in-person learning at schools. The second is a structured online model where students will learn online at at set schedule each day.The last is an unstructured, flexible online option which includes some teacher instruction and set your own pace format.

Michelle Tolbirt’s daughter will be starting school in Huntsville this fall.

”Well as someone going into kindergarten I would prefer my child to have that experience and so hopefully everything will go pretty good with her actually going into the classroom,” said Tolbirt.

“I think the teachers and the staff are doing what they need to do to protect the kids and they have some good actions in place,” Tolbirt added.

The school district will have flexibility for students learning during COVID-19.

“It’s going to be pretty rough I think,” said Kathleen Williams, who will be a junior at Huntsville High School this fall. She said she likely won’t be back inside yet.

“I’ll probably be doing online school mostly from home unless things start to get better and they let everyone go back to school but we have to choose between like a scheduled structured online school and more flexible and for me I do better with some structure,” she said.

“Our biggest concern as always is the health and safety of ours students, staff and community. We are Huntsville Hornet strong and whether having school remotely or in a traditional way we will continue building champions in Huntsville ISD,” said Scott Sheppard, Huntsville ISD Superintendent, in a video posted on the district website. He was unable to meet for an interview Thursday.

“Our entire community has been supportive, caring and understanding as we do everything possible to see our district through. I can tell you though nothing takes the place of face to face instruction and having traditional school. We miss our students from the smallest pre-k kiddo to our seniors and everyone in between,” said Sheppard in the district video.

”Everybody be safe and clean everything up and have the teachers ready for this different kind of classroom,” added Tolbirt.

The school district said that soon after the July 4 Holiday parents and guardians will be able to choose which option they prefer. They also say they are still getting guidance from the Texas Education Agency.

The district also said students will have to choose whether in-person or online. They aren’t looking at hybrid learning.

We have the superintendent’s letter below:

Dear Huntsville ISD Parents/Guardians,I hope your family is staying safe during the summer break. We continue to monitor COVID-19 and its impact on our local community, state and nation. Governor Abbott has stated that Texas students will return to school this fall and we know this raises many questions and concerns for parents as you begin to think about what school may look like for your child in August. While we await answers and guidance from the Texas Education Agency, our district team has been very busy prioritizing student safety by creating options for HISD students. Several learning models have been developed for us to continue Building Champions in 2020-2021. Parents will be able to choose the model of instruction that best suits your child’s individual needs and family situation. We are doing everything possible to balance safety, quality learning, and the individual needs of our students and parents. To be clear, we plan to offer ALL THREE MODELS simultaneously so you may choose what works best for you and your child.

  • Model A = Traditional: In-Person Face-to-Face Instruction in a Traditional School Setting with new health protocols such as social distancing, smaller class sizes, fewer large group interactions during the school day, face coverings as appropriate, etc. Best suited for students needing daily, face-to-face instruction from teachers to succeed in school, and parents who are unable to supervise or care for children during the school day. Available to students in all grade levels.
  • Model B = Structured Online: Daily Online School following a set schedule for each course/subject with students logging in at specific times every school day, during traditional school hours. Synced to Model A with lessons & assignments following the exact same schedule as face-to-face students. Model B is only available to students in grade 3-12 per state regulations. Best suited for students needing daily scheduled instruction to succeed in school, and parents wishing to limit exposure due to health concerns who are also able to provide supervision in home for younger children during the school day.
  • Model C = Unstructured/Flexible Online: Daily Online School with a flexible schedule featuring self-paced online courses with intermittent teacher instruction. Suitable for students with an ability to succeed in a less structured remote learning environment. More parental involvement will be required, especially for younger students. Parents wishing to limit exposure due to health concerns but unable to choose Model B may find this model suitable, especially because of the flexible schedule - giving working parents an opportunity to help students in the evenings. Available to students in all grade levels.

With all models, curriculum is being adjusted to address lost instructional time from last spring to help fill learning gaps. All models also utilize Google Classroom, allowing easier transitions between models should the need arise; however, online learning for students will be very different from the remote instruction experienced in the spring. Reliable technology, daily attendance, along with engagement/progress monitoring will be required for each online model. Parent training opportunities will also be scheduled for those who choose online learning. We are working on ways to provide technology to students in need prior to the start of the year, and significant work is being done to make Model C a strong option for our younger students given the state’s decision to only allow one online option for PK - 2nd grade. Additionally, as health and safety remains our priority, protocols will be in place for all in-person interaction and face-to-face instruction to help reduce the risks. We want parents to know we will make every reasonable effort to protect students and staff as we follow the recommended safety guidelines, including: smaller classes, social distancing, frequent cleaning and disinfecting, increased hand-washing and sanitizing stations, modified breakfast and lunch plans, controlling student movement/class transitions, and more. I know you are looking for details on what the school year will bring and we plan to share more with you later this summer as the situation becomes more clear at the state level. We expect all students to return to Huntsville ISD for the 2020-21 school year because we know we will be able to provide the education your child needs in the setting you desire as a parent. Soon after the July 4th weekend, you will have an opportunity to select the Hornet Learning Model that is best for your child as part of the Back to School Online Student Registration process. More details about each model will be included in that process.I ask for your continued patience as we finalize safe and adaptable plans for our return to school in August. We are all in this together, and together we will continue Building Champions in Huntsville ISD!

Sting ‘em,

Scott Sheppard, Ed.D.

Superintendent

Huntsville ISD

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