Parent Message - Preliminary back-to-school plans

06.30.2020

On Friday, Deer Park ISD sent the following message to all District parents using our Skylert parent communication system.

THIS IS A MESSAGE FROM DEER PARK ISD:

This week, the Texas Education Agency announced the first steps that will eventually lead to students returning to Texas public schools. We are writing to touch base with parents about Deer Park ISD’s back-to-school plans.

Student safety has always been our top priority, and the ongoing pandemic affects every aspect of the school environment. In fact, Harris County this morning issued a voluntary stay-home advisory in response to a significant increase in COVID-19 cases. As we work toward the first day of school, we urge families to continue following health recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus. Information is available at: https://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/.

A team of principals and representatives from our health services, child nutrition, transportation, school safety, communications, technology, and other departments has already met to create plans for each area. Of course, the COVID-19 situation is extremely fluid, which means we have to prepare for a number of possibilities.

We are planning to start school on Wednesday, Aug. 19. Beginning in mid-July, the District will begin sharing those plans in greater detail. At that point, we believe we will have a better idea of how the beginning of school will look. For now, we can share the following:

INSTRUCTION
We will offer two different instructional delivery formats for the 2020-2021 school year: in-person instruction and remote learning. On the first day of school, all students will be issued an iPad. The first two weeks of school will be spent re-acclimating students to the school environment and their technology devices. We will focus on working through the learning management systems – Seesaw for pre-k through fourth grade and Canvas for grades five-12. Students will be taught how to access instructional applications, how to submit an assignment, how to communicate with their teachers and peers, and how to access needed support at their respective grade levels. Similarly, we will familiarize parents with Seesaw and Canvas along with the other resources that will be utilized with face-to-face and remote learning.

Remote learning for our District could take two forms: two-way, real-time instruction between teachers and students through the use of technology and instruction that involves far more self-guided instruction through which students interact intermittently with the teacher via technology. Attendance will be taken daily with a focus of at least four hours a day dedicated to instruction. The District grading policy will be the same for in-person instruction and remote learning.

While many parents support reopening our schools, we understand that some parents may choose to keep their child home due to a health concern involving the student or a close family member. We certainly understand that concern and will do our best to accommodate the needs of students who want to continue eLearning from home.

FACILITIES
Schools will be sanitized daily, and we will follow social distancing guidelines whenever possible.

Public access to schools will be significantly restricted, with visitors and deliveries limited to specific areas of schools. Hand sanitizing stations have been installed at all campuses. Every district is getting a state allotment of gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer.

SURVEY AND SUPPORT
In a few weeks, we will deliver an online survey to parents, giving them the opportunity to share their views on reopening schools, back-to-school plans, and more.

Once we have more definitive plans in place, we will need your support with encouraging students to follow social distancing guidelines and other recommended health practices off-campus as well as at school. Our plans to keep our schools as safe as possible simply won’t work without your cooperation.

On behalf of the hundreds of teachers, administrators, and other members of Team Deer Park, we can tell you that we miss having our students fill the classrooms, halls, and other areas of our schools. We miss sharing their victories in the classroom and in athletic and fine arts competitions.

But, as much as we look forward to returning to a regular school routine, we are not willing to sacrifice safety for sentiment. We will continue to provide an encouraging, supportive environment for our students, but first, our schools must be as safe as possible. We remain in contact with health officials and are closely monitoring the situation.

We appreciate your support, we welcome your feedback, and we look forward to seeing your child on Aug. 19.

Regards,
Victor E. White, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools

Stephen Harrell
Superintendent-Elect