Sealy ISD working on options for fall instruction

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Should school return to in-person instruction in the fall, the Sealy ISD Board of Trustees plan to have the district prepared.

They received an update from around the district on the COVID-19 pandemic’s rippling effects on the education scene in Sealy at Wednesday’s regular meeting, held in the Sealy Junior High School cafeteria.

The first item after the consent agenda was a COVID-19 presentation which was made in tag-team fashion by Chief Financial Officer Lisa Svoboda, Superintendent Bryan Hallmark, Assistant Superintendent Chris Summers, and Executive Director of Human Resources and Operations Shawn Hiatt.

“The purpose of this presentation is not to say here’s a comprehensive plan; this is more of us saying here’s what we’re considering for the next school year,” Hallmark said.

Svoboda said that no matter what role an individual serves the district, they have experienced some changes in the wake of the pandemic and will continue to see more coming down the pike. She said the district suffered with revenue loss and increased expenditures due to the cancellations and shutdowns during the pandemic. She said suggestions on cost-cutting measures or any other outside-the-box ideas are welcome from members of the board who each bring different experiences and expertise from their respective careers.

Innovating thought processes when it comes to utilizing all of the minutes allotted during a school day to squeeze the most amount of instruction into each second was a point made by Hallmark, saying that if there could be a homeroom period where 15 to 20 minutes was spent learning as soon as students walk in the door could add up. That possible addition, on top of waivers, could provide three weeks’ worth of instructional minutes that the school could lean back on if a new outbreak occurs and school needs to be shutdown.

Hallmark also said a survey went out to families on Thursday asking parents their biggest concerns in returning to in-person instruction. He said once the data is received, a team will be assembled to develop a plan based on the answers which would be presented to the board for approval at the next regular meeting on July 22.

“The thing I want the parents to hear is that the best place for their kid to learn is in our classroom with our teachers. We’re going to sanitize our campuses; we’re going to keep them as safe as we possibly can,” Hallmark said. “There still could be parents who choose remote instruction but we’ve got to be clear about what it’s going to take to be successful for remote instruction.”

The instructional methods used this fall are still to be determined but Summers said all along, he and his team have been planning on rolling out multiple instructional scenarios ranging from fully online to fully in-person.

“Right now it’s looking like it’s going to be a hybrid of having kids come (in-person) and then being flexible enough to offer a remote learning strand so that if parents are concerned and don’t want to send their kiddos, we can still capture ADA (average daily attendance),” Summers said.

A challenge both he and Hallmark alluded to was the students’ access to technology but also creating a plan to provide a seamless transition if a student were to be in school two days a week and at home the other three days.

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