Back-to-school plans outlined by districts


As the school year approaches, local districts and schools are trying to figure out what it will look like during a global pandemic.

Each district has been providing different back-to-school dates and COVID-19 guidelines.

These plans are all subject to change, as new information comes in almost daily.

For example, on Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott waived the grade promotion requirements for 2020-2021 STAAR testing for fifth through eighth grade.

With this waiver, there will only be one administration of the STAAR grades five and eight mathematics and reading assessments for the school year. The test will be administered in May to coincide with the administration of other STAAR grades three through eight assessments.

Fall guidelines for each district are listed below.


Fredericksburg ISD

On Wednesday, July 22, Fredericksburg Independent School District’s Board of Trustees voted to delay the first day of school from Aug. 17 to Aug. 24.

They also voted to allow students using the remote learning option to participate in all extracurricular activities.

On Monday, July 27, the school board approved its COVID-19 Guidance Plan by a 6-1 vote with Trustee Kelly DiCuffa in opposition.

Students will have to stick with the option they choose for the eight-week grading period. It was originally a nine-week grading period, but this was changed after the start date was delayed.

If a student chooses remote learning, he or she will be held to the same academic standards and attendance rules as a student who chooses in-person learning.

Texas Education Agency guidelines state that parents don’t have to make a decision about in-person learning until more than two weeks in advance, giving them a chance to review the latest public health information.

Masks will be required for anyone who enters FISD facilities. Hand sanitizing stations will be available for use. If a student or staff member needs a mask, the district will provide one.

Those entering facilities will have their temperature checked and will be health screened daily.


Harper ISD

Harper Independent School District will start school in person for all students wanting to attend on Aug. 19.

The district surveyed families about how it should prepare for the upcoming school year in mid-July.

Families who wish to keep students at home for COVID-19 related reasons can choose asynchronous remote instruction. This means the student would learn the same material as other students but at different times.

 The student must stick with whichever learning option is chosen until the end of the six-week grading period.

Students who choose the remote learning option will be unable to participate in UIL-sanctioned sports.

If symptoms or a confirmed case of COVID-19 is present, parents should opt to receive remote instruction until the conditions for re-entry have been met.

Parents may also opt to have their child receive remote instruction if their child has had close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19 until the 14-day incubation period has passed.

Parents must self screen their students prior to sending them to school.

Teachers and staff must report if they themselves have COVID-19 symptoms or are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and, if so, they must remain off campus until they meet the criteria for re-entry.

Visitors will not be allowed past the reception area.

Face coverings will be required for all students in grades 4-12 and all adult employees. Students under grade four are encouraged to wear a mask.

To see the full plan, go to



Doss Consolidated Common School District is planning to bring its students back to school on Aug. 24.

They will also provide an at-home option for families who don’t feel comfortable sending their kids back.

As per Texas Education Agency guidelines, Doss CCSD will not force families to make an in-person learning commitment until two weeks before school starts.

While everything is subject to change, Administrative Consultant Pam Seipp said for planning purposes, her belief is that families would have to stick with their chosen option of learning for the first six-week grading period.

Teachers have been training for a blended learning system, so they’re better prepared if school is closed.

All staff and students will be health screened, and staff and students over the age of 10 are required to wear masks.


St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s Catholic School plans to ease into the school year with adjusted hours and Fridays off in the beginning.

The first week, beginning on Aug. 17, will consist of student orientation. There will be a 12 p.m. dismissal with no lunch or extended days offered. There will be no school Friday.

During that week, families seeking a distance learning option can schedule a meeting with teachers in the afternoons in an isolated environment.

For the next two weeks, there will be no school on Friday and there will be a 3:15 p.m. dismissal.

A “Friday Support” model will be launched the week of Aug. 31.

All students must vacate the premises no later than 5:30 p.m. to mitigate risk of exposure and to allow staff to clean classrooms.

Staff and students who are sick or who have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms must stay home.

Those entering the premises must self-screen at home before reporting to campus each day. Employees feeling sick should notify their supervisor, remain home and consult a medical professional. Students who feel sick should stay home, consult a medical professional and alert the school.

Students who are sick should participate in the remote learning option, if possible.

Face coverings are required for students in grades 3-8, and all adults, especially when social distancing is not feasible.

Pre-K through second grade students aren’t required to wear a face covering, but it is encouraged.


Ambleside School

Ambleside School of Fredericksburg is planning to be back in school on Sept. 8, rather than the previously planned Aug. 18 date.

Head of School Russ York said while there will be modifications to how Ambleside conducts school, the goal is to provide a school day that is consistent with its typical operating rhythms and in accord with best educational practices.


Heritage School

Heritage School will be open for in-person classes on Aug. 19, as scheduled.

“We will abide by (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines and will also follow TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) guidelines for sports,” said Head of School Nancy Hierholzer.

More details will be provided next week.