GISD works to get students educated, fed during closure
Graham ISD Superintendent Sonny Cruse updated the community Friday and over the weekend, communicating the district’s progress in dealing with closures due to COVID-19.
Cruse spoke during a Facebook Live video hosted on the district’s Facebook page Friday and sent additional information to parents after the presentation on Sunday. He said in the next week he will be making a decision to extend the April 3 closure date set by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Abbott issued an Executive Order Tuesday, March 31, implementing Essential Services and Activities Protocols for the state of Texas. The order includes directions to minimize non-essential gatherings and in-person contact with people who are not in the same household. Additionally under the order, schools will remain temporarily closed to in-person classroom attendance through May 4, 2020.
On Friday, GISD distributed technology and materials to students in the district to prepare them for online learning. Cruse said if parents did not pick up the materials or there was an error in the packet for the students, the teachers will be in contact with parents to make sure they receive what they need.
“Part of our plan when we were doing the technology distribution portion, was to get at least one device in every home,” Cruse said. “As we get that goal accomplished, we do have plenty of devices in the district. I think we will easily be able to meet the needs for those families that have multiple children, that we will be able to get you more than one device.”
The GISD website has maps with Wi-Fi access in the city freely available for students. Cruse said for the district the problem is not with devices, but availability of wireless internet.
“The most challenging thing that we will have providing our families is Wi-Fi connectivity in their home,” Cruse said. “We have looked at potentially purchasing some MiFi-type (portable) hotspots. Right now, I have decided it is probably not wise to purchase those because we are being told the earliest they would ship would be on May the 1st, and by the time they get here it (...) would be the second week of May and by the time passed out and everything it would be the third week and then school will almost be over.”
Meal program update
The district’s meal program which was implemented on Monday, March 23 to allow students to receive meals while the campuses are closed, underwent some changes this week to accommodate parents.
“We have fed a lot of kids this (last) week. I think today (Friday) it was right about 250 kids that we fed at lunchtime,” Cruse said. “Starting next week (this week), we will not do the breakfast run from 7:30 to 8 (a.m.) We will move to a plan where we provide two meals at one time, so we will provide lunch today and breakfast for tomorrow. So, we will still do the curbside dropoff program at our three elementary schools, Pioneer, Crestview and Woodland from 11 (a.m.) to 12 (p.m.) We are also going to be launching a remote meal service where we establish four routes out on our bus routes and we will have stops on those areas to be able to provide meals there as well as we have three in-town stops.”
Cruse distributed the new meal plan Friday on the district’s parent resource ParentSqaure which informs parents of the new free meal program for children from ages 2-18 in the district. In the document it states the remote delivery service will have four bus routes as well as in-town locations.
Remote delivery in-town locations
Stop 1 - 11 a.m. Lone Oak Apartments on Carolina Street
Stop 2 - 11:30 a.m. Graham Junior High School new gym parking lot on Tennessee St.
Stop 3 - Noon Oak Street Baptist Church parking lot
Remote delivery out-of-town locations
Route 1 – Loving, Markley, Jean area
Stop 1 - 11 a.m. Hwy. 16 and Cearley Road
Stop 2 - 11:25 a.m. Loving - Corner of Hwy. 16 and Hwy. 114 (4996 SH 16)
Stop 3 - 11:50 a.m. Markley - 9400 SH 16 and FM 1769
Stop 4 - 12:15 p.m. Red Top Road (FM 2652) and Hwy. 114
Stop 5 - 12:40 p.m. Jean - Methodist Church - 7839 FM 1769
Route 2 – East and West Side Lake Graham; Hwy. 380 E to Bryson
Stop 1 - 11:00 a.m. FM 61 and FM 3003 (West Side)
Stop 2 - 11:25 a.m. Hwy. 380 and FM 1769 (East Side)
Stop 3 - 11:55 a.m. Hwy. 380 and Cement Mountain Road (100 Cement Mountain Road)
Route 3 – South Bend, Eliasville, Murray
Stop 1 - 11:00 a.m. 2186 SH 67 (Tonkawa gate)
Stop 2 - 11:25 a.m. South Bend Post Office (313 S Main)
Stop 3 - 11:55 a.m. FM 701 N and 701 S (downtown Eliasville)
Stop 4 - 12:15 p.m. Fish Creek Rd - FM 3109 and FM 209
Route 4 – Finis, Dark Canyon, Bunger
Stop 1 11:00 a.m. Cross Rd and Finis Rd
Stop 2 - 11:40 a.m. Hwy. 16 S and Thomas Ln (Dark Canyon)
Stop 3 - 12:15 p.m. 2370 FM 1287 (Burgess Auction House)
Along with changes to routes, Cruse said there have been federal changes which allow parents to pick up meals for students without the student being present. He said the cafeteria and education staff have been busy trying to make sure students are ready during the closure.
“(I) need to give a big shout-out to our cafeteria staff (who) have done such a good job this week feeding lots of kids,” Cruse said. (...) Also to our teachers, our teachers have worked so hard this week in preparing lessons and materials and came in on Tuesday and got a whole lot of things completed today (Friday) as far as distribution and materials.”
At-home learning update
On Sunday, March 29, Cruse distributed the at-home learning resources which were developed by the district curriculum team in a resource site available to parents and guardians. The site can be accessed at https://sites.google.com/grahamisd.com/homepage-gisd-at-home-learning/home. On the website is support resources for parents and students and resources for educators at each campus. The curriculum team included their plans moving forward on the site.
“The Graham ISD Curriculum and Instruction team would like to express our heartfelt prayers for all those affected during this time of great uncertainty resulting from the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the website states. “Our hearts are also with all the Grahan ISD staff who have poured their hearts into work to improve student outcomes throughout the year and who will now be asked to again meet the challenge by providing effective distance learning opportunities during the quarantine. As we move forward, our goal is to provide learning opportunities that minimize and even overcome the time that will be missed from school. The work done during this time will be essential in preparing students to return to school prepared, regardless of when that might be.”
According to the release from the curriculum team, GISD is creating a two-phase plan for providing at-home learning during the closure and will be identifying and sharing recommended resources for continued learning for students.
Phase 1 - “GISD will provide resources for students and parents that encourage online, often self-paced learning activities. During phase 1 teachers will begin developing more personal online learning opportunities through programs such as Google Classroom and online presentation tools. Grade level/subject teachers will collaborate (while observing social distancing protocol set forth by the district) to develop a plan for their team that will be most effective in delivering instruction and support. This plan should then be shared with the campus principal.”
Phase 2 - “Following the two-week Phase 1 period, GISD will provide more personal online learning experiences that identify specific skills and concepts necessary for students to learn/review/practice. Teachers will focus on modeling, reinforcing, and practicing content students have learned earlier in the school year. Teachers will also focus on providing instruction in ESSENTIAL STANDARDS (Readiness Standards) for remaining content and guide student practice. These practices will build student knowledge and fluency.”
Additionally on Friday, Cruse said the district will be taking measures to make sure those in special education programs throughout the district are accounted for during this period.
“Graham ISD will ensure that students with disabilities will have equal access to the same opportunities, including the provision of free and appropriate education,” Cruse said. “Graham ISD wants to assure you that to the greatest extent possible, each of our students with disabilities can be provided special education and related services identified to that student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program). To that end, if your child receives special education services, our special education staff will be in contact with you over the next week to address what your child’s educational support will look like during the time of closure.”