Fredericksburg Independent School District’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously this morning, Thursday, to suspend face-to-face instruction in school facilities through April 3.
The decision comes amid concerns of the pandemic of COVID-19, the new disease caused by coronavirus. FISD’s board will reconvene April 2. Students could return April 6, depending on state, federal and local decisions.
“We’re going to have to come up with a plan to figure out where we’re at, but right now, I don’t know where we’re headed,” said Board President Brian Lehne.
In an effort to keep staff safe, Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Brasher is encouraging faculty and staff to work remotely. Should teachers need to come in and work, they can do so from 8 a.m. to noon on Monday and Wednesday of each week. This schedule allows the custodians to come in and sanitize each campus on a scheduled basis.
“We want to continue allowing maintenance staff to clean and disinfect 24-7,” Brasher said.
Curriculum and instruction
Brasher said staff will continue to work on a long-term plan with Curriculum and Instruction.
The district is providing education to its students via online and by handing out packets to parents. They plan on doing this one week at a time.
Dr. Delesa Styles, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, said Fredericksburg Primary School had three packet pickup times on Wednesday.
“When I left Central Office at 5:30 p.m., there was a whole team still at FPS delivering learning packets,” Styles said.
Styles and board member Kelly DiCuffa asked if Brasher would consider a pickup time that is consistent across the district. He said he will reach out to principals.
Brasher said schools have reached out to parents to see if everyone had the resources to use the packets.
Board member Mark Cornett asked if there would be a possibility to extend school in the summer by one week.
Brasher responded that discussions of summer school for kids have been in progress.
“There’s a lot of factors we need to consider, but I don’t think we can take anything off the table,” Brasher said.
Cornett and DiCuffa noted the initial packets were a bit thin, but DiCuffa believed this was done as a way to introduce both students and teachers to remote learning.
“Just like homeschooling is a muscle that’s being developed and strengthened for our families, learning to teach remotely is also a muscle that’s being developed and strengthened for our teachers,” Styles said. “These first few days, FISD’s primary concern was about immediately contacting families to check on students and reassure them that they will have access to teachers via email or phone and educational resources for their children.”
She added that as the district “hones our craft, we’ll get stronger and stronger in our ability to support our students and families with remote instruction.”
“We’re working with technology vendors to add additional online resources for our families,” Styles said. “Current vendors have swiftly opened up additional student subscriptions and learning platforms from their side as well, and I can’t thank them enough.”
She added that with the cancellation of the STAAR tests, it’s allowed teachers to be more creative about how they deliver instruction.
“As unfortunate as all of this is, there are some pockets of hope and growth, and empowerment for our teachers,” Styles said.
FISD will continue to offer breakfast and lunch for students at Fredericksburg Middle School and Fredericksburg Primary School.
Meals are on a pick-up basis. Times are 7:30-8:30 a.m. for breakfast and 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. for lunch each day, Monday through Friday.
Brasher said he would consider moving the morning time back to 7 a.m. to accommodate those who go to work at 8 a.m., as they may have trouble dropping by with their kids.
Meals are for any child 18 years old or younger. Meals can be picked up by driving to the front porch of FPS or on the west side of FMS at the bus turn around lane. The child must be present to receive the meal.
Athletic facilities on campuses are closed, per recommendations from University Interscholastic League (UIL).
The next board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 23, will be broadcast live on Billies Live (BilliesLive.com) for those who wish to stay home.
For board members who want to stay home, they should reach out to Brasher’s office so they can be set up to be part of the meeting through Zoom.