FISD board OK’s COVID-19 ‘work-in-progress’ guidelines

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District purchases new computers for students, staff

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Albeit a work in progress, Fredericksburg Independent School District’s Board of Trustees approved the district’s COVID-19 Guidance Plan Monday night.

During the 5:30 p.m. meeting at the Central Office, 234 Friendship Lane, trustees approved the plan by a 6-1 vote.

“There will be ongoing changes that will be made to the plan probably throughout the entire year,” Supt. Dr. Jeffrey Brasher said.

The board approved two parts of the plan during a meeting on Wednesday, July 22. Those dealt with delaying the start of school from Aug. 17 to Aug. 24, and allowing students learning remotely to participate in extracurricular activities.

However, they tabled approving the full plan for five days to allow for further review.

Trustee Kelly DiCuffa opposed the plan on Monday, as she felt it needed more work.

“I don’t know that I will be able to support it,” DiCuffa said. “I think there’s room for clarification around grading and cheating. Neither are addressed in the current plan.”

She also wanted clarification on how online learning will relate to the classroom, specifically for grades 7-12.

“I do think it’s much improved, but what I have to look at is, ‘Would I have enough information to make a qualified decision between the two options for my own kids?’”

Brasher said he understands the cheating concern, and has been having discussions with administrators and superintendents from other districts as to how to address it.

Trustee Brian Lehne agreed with DiCuffa’s thoughts, but felt comfortable knowing this plan will be tweaked throughout the school year.

“I agree with you, Kelly, I mean, we’ve all gotten a bunch of emails this week that speak to that,” Lehne said. “With everybody working on it, is it something you could live with if they could get something back to us in a couple of weeks?”

Trustee Natalie Bowman offered the idea of adding a testing center at Fredericksburg High School.

“Maybe that would help with some of the cheating,” Bowman said.

FHS Principal Joe Gonzalez said a testing center would defeat the purpose of a student staying home to avoid COVID-19.

“If we have a testing center, then what happens if a student doesn’t show up to take a test?” Gonzalez asked. “Is it an automatic zero?”

Gonzalez said high school teachers and staff have been looking at how to develop classrooms as teams in Google Classroom to make it easier for teachers to monitor cheating.

He added that teachers can tell when a student is cheating by looking at how the work is completed.

Trustee Kerinne Herber agreed with Gonzales, saying a lot of teachers have told her they could tell when students were cheating in the spring. However, she still believes cheating should be addressed.

“This is not just a remote issue, this is across the board, and so we need a consistent standard,” Herber said.

Herber also focused on making sure students and parents know remote learning won’t be the same as it was in the spring.

“Grades will count, it’s not a pass or fail like it was in the spring semester,” Herber said.

She added remote work will have to be completed at the same time as every in-person student, and that there will be an expectation of kids to be logged in during the school day and engaging in at least 90% of the work.

Board president Dr. Lance Love expressed his appreciation for the administrators working on this plan.

“We know you guys are committed to making this experience the best education we can provide for our students and our stakeholders,” Love said.

Brasher said the plan will be sent to families this week.

 

Computers

The board also approved the purchase of new computers for the district by a unanimous vote.

Dr. Michelle Williams, Director of Technology, purchased two orders of computers. Of all of the computers purchased, 89 will go to Stonewall Elementary School to be used by the classrooms when needed, and 211 will go to Fredericksburg Elementary School to help reduce the deficit of devices at that school. A total of 50 computers will go to Fredericksburg Primary School.

DiCuffa asked how close this gets the district to being at a one-to-one computer to student ratio.

“I want to get us current,” DiCuffa said. “The standard is at seventh or eighth grade, you get a computer or device, and it’s associated with you and it’s how you use Google Classroom.”

She added most jobs require a computer, so it’s a disservice not to train them on how to use computers.

Williams said that while she is trying to bridge the gap, she doesn’t want to purchase all of the computers at once without a plan.

“I feel like if we pull the trigger on one-to-one right now, we’re looking at three to four years spending that same amount of money replacing all of those devices without a plan,” Williams said. “I want something that is sustainable for the district.”

DiCuffa said she would support Williams’ efforts of an incremental plan.