Midway ISD planning for ‘safe start’ this fall

Local News

HEWITT, Texas – Midway Independent School District Superintendent George Kazanas sent out a statement Thursday night regarding the district’s reopening plans for the start of school this August.

Kazanas says this is an important and complicated topic, with many details to share. The following information is taken from the statement:

Safe Start Task Force

As we shared with you recently in the latest edition of the district’s News to Know, Midway ISD 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, Human Resources, 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 anxiously anticipated essential guidance from state officials so that I know what Midway ISD 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 State of Texas authorities has forced the district to prepare multiple strategies and scenarios in order to be prepared for the various “what ifs” that might occur due to the virus.

In other words, the plans being prepared are designed to be fluid as the district addresses the changing conditions we continue to encounter due to COVID-19. Information obtained from our community’s Thought Exchange with over 2500 participants and 3200 comments are playing a key part in the planning, as well as any available guidance from the state and other medical and school authorities.

Options for Education

This Tuesday afternoon, the Commissioner of Education confirmed that Midway ISD 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 this week related to instruction away from school was consistent with what we anticipated and have been preparing for since the end of the 2019-20 school year. Midway ISD will be asking parents to choose in-person school or online school when registering students for classes beginning in mid-July so we can appropriately structure staffing in August.

MISD 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 in order 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. In order to accommodate all students returning to the classroom in-person, following are 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
• Voluntary use of face shields / masks for both staff and students
• Limited sharing of school supplies / equipment
• Staggered arrival and release times
• Limited gatherings and event
• 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 app-based learning tasks that students complete on their own. Some of the design considerations include the following components:
• Students will have an MISD teacher, but the majority of learning and practice will be completed by the student at home, using resources provided by the teacher and MISD
• All instruction will be delivered virtually
• Instruction will be delivered by MISD 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 MISD teacher will communicate daily learning expectations in the district learning management system (Schoology / See Saw)
• 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 by the virtual teacher
• Students will turn in daily assignments to the teacher through the Learning Management System (SeeSaw or Schoology)
• 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

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 Midway ISD to finalize our reopening plans, which we still intend to do prior to registration opening on July 15. The district remains in contact with our local public health department and will also seek their guidance and the status of the community transmission of the virus in McLennan County when we finalize decisions related to health and social distancing precautions for in-person school.

Kazanas went on to say 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, and that Midway ISD cannot make decisions in these areas until the guidance is available.

The district says it is hearing from many people with important questions and feedback. They say they simply cannot answer some of these questions yet until plans are finalized, and the district needs the requirements and guidance about in-person school from the state of Texas first.

Once options are finalized, the district plans to communicate with people by email, the web, social media and by working with media partners.

Source: Midway Independent School District

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