Remote students can engage in extracurricular activities

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FISD board delays school by one week

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While the entire COVID-19 guidance plan wasn’t approved, the Fredericksburg Independent School District Board of Trustees did vote on two important topics.

During a special 5:30 p.m. Thursday meeting, the board voted 5-2 to allow students whose families choose remote learning to participate in all extracurricular activities. Board President Lance Love and Trustee Mark Cornett opposed.

The board also voted 5-0 to delay the start of school from Aug. 17 to Aug. 24. Love and Trustee Kerinne Herber abstained.

The entire COVID-19 Guidance Plan was tabled for another meeting to allow for more development. That meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 27.

 

Extracurricular participation

After initially refusing to allow students in remote learning to participate in University Interscholastic League activities last week, the board walked back that decision with a vote to allow those students to take part in all extracurricular activities.

“We certainly want kids to have that opportunity to participate in UIL activities,” said Supt. Dr. Jeffrey Brasher. “Now, we know that some kids may try to take advantage of that situation, but generally, I think most kids are honest.”

Trustee Kelly DiCuffa, who opposed the board’s previous decision, continued voicing her opinion on the matter.

“I appreciate everybody relooking at this,” DiCuffa said. “I absolutely believe that, in a time where we are not in a state of normal, if we could offer something to a child that seems normal to them, whether that’s singles tennis or running cross country, then whether they’re learning at home or at school shouldn’t matter.”

She added that the decision to choose remote learning will likely be made by a parent, instead of a student.

Cornett voiced his opposition by saying it’ll be tough to social distance in extracurricular activities.

“If there’s a medical reason not to come to school, I fully respect that, but perhaps that’s not conducive to that extracurricular activity,” Cornett said.

 

First day of school

To allow extra time for teacher preparation, Brasher asked the board to approve delaying the start of school an extra week.

This would change the grading period from nine to eight weeks, Brasher said. This also means three schools — Fredericksburg Elementary, Primary and High schools – will need to add 10 more minutes to the school day.

Adding this time would also free up additional days in case the district needs to shut down again, which could occur if 2% of the student population tests positive for COVID-19.

Trustee Natalie Bowman was for this delay, saying that teachers and staff already have to prepare for so much without a pandemic.

“I know that between everyone getting on Google Classroom, making sure they’re knowing every protocol and feeling safe in the classroom, I think they’re going to need that week to do that,” Bowman said.

DiCuffa agreed with the delay, but didn’t understand why there wasn’t a better option than adding extra minutes to a school day.

“We’ve known we were going to need this since March,” DiCuffa said. “It does cause me to pause that we have to have the kids stay 10 minutes longer because we failed to get in front of it.”

“Are there any alternatives other than extending the school day?” DiCuffa asked. “Are there any days to grab that we could have kids come in? I fully get extending to allow the time, I would just hate to extend the school day.”

Jill Minshew, assistant superintendent of Business and Finance, said this is something she could look into.

 

Other business

The board also:

•              Approved the goals, charges and parameters of the FISD Citizens Advisory Committee for Educational