During the scheduled Red Oak ISD School Board meeting on July 27, Superintendent Brenda Sanford shared her back-to-school plan for the 2020-2021 school year.

On July 28, it was announced that the official first day of school would be Thursday, Aug. 20.

Sanford began her presentation Monday evening by recapping the Spring 2020 semester.

"What I wanted to look at is the progression since COVID began in our area," Sanford began. "In the spring as you know, COVID hit while we were on Spring Break and the schools were shut down in Texas, and we offered virtual support and packets throughout the school year. As we got to the end of the school year in May, we concluded knowing student growth was in question."

For the incoming month of August, Sanford displayed two options parents have for their children’s schooling.

"So what we’re at the point at right now is offering options, suggestions, recommendations to the board as far as what we can do to stay within the guidelines that the state is giving us ... to offer that quality instruction to all students," Sanford shared at the board meeting.

Option one

In the first option, she said teachers will be back in school to give in-person instruction.

"Option one is a typical start of the school. The parents will receive an email on July 29, and they will have to commit on August the 3rd, whether they want their student in school or whether they want their student virtual. Up to two weeks prior to school is when they can change the commitment," Sanford said.

The option is a soft launch available for four weeks and possibly an extra four weeks if needed, allowing the options of virtual asynchronous learning and in-person learning. If a parent chooses virtual learning for his/her child, they must present proof that they have a reliable wifi source at home.

For in-school instruction, students who are in fourth grade or above must wear a face covering until they are seated in their classroom. Masks will be provided if students don’t have them.

"Social distancing will be practiced anywhere that is feasible," Sanford said. "All students riding the bus will be required to wear a face covering and (for) students entering the bus, the parents have to indicate that the student has been self-screened."

In addition, all students will be counted present or absent through in-person and virtual learning.

"As far as the students are concerned, they were all virtual last spring, the grades were frozen, so what they did during their virtual (classes) did not negatively impact. Whereas for the fall, if the student is virtual, it’s gonna be held to the same standard as the grades are for those in class," she said.

One possibility Sanford pitched was if a student does not have wifi and chooses to go virtual, packets would be allowed for the first four weeks of school.

Option two

Option two is for all students to start off the first two weeks of the 2020-2021 school year virtually.

If schooling becomes strictly virtual, "All students will need a device, and those that do not already have a device will be provided one. Daily participation for all grade levels will be required. Kids have to log in daily," Sanford said. "TEA has said the 90 percent rule will be in effect. So in essence, if the kid does not log in and does not complete any of their assignments, then they will not be eligible for promotion. Students must be 90 percent to get credit and pass to the next grade level."

Immunization requirements will also be required, despite the option chosen. Whether learning is in-person or at-home virtual, items that will be the same include TEKS, attendance, grades and teachers.

"I think the best you can do is give them a choice. Then UIL comes in and says, well they don’t have to make a choice in participating in extracurricular, and I think that’s a good thing. I don’t think we should punish kids if they’re not on campus. I think they should choose to be there. I think we should give them all of the opportunities we can give them," board member Dr. Joy Shaw shared.

On July 29, parents received an email from ROISD asking them to make a commitment for their student to choose either traditional in-person or at-home asynchronous learning for the first six-week grading period. In order for ROISD to finalize staffing requirements, commitments need to be made no later than 8 a.m. Monday, Aug. 3.