GISD moves 2020-2021 school year start date to Aug. 31
The Graham ISD school board Tuesday morning approved amending the 2020-2021 school calendar moving the start date for the school year across the district to Aug. 31. The measure is being taken for district staff to get better prepared for what could be a unique year with COVID-19 precautions from the Texas Education Agency.
GISD Superintendent Sonny Cruse addressed the board members in the meeting and discussed how the board originally had amended the school start date from Monday, Aug. 24 to Monday, Aug. 17, while the county had only five active cases and said things have changed now. The district under TEA guidelines for the 2020-2021 school year are required to provide two instruction models, in-person and remote instruction.
“Moving the calendar I don’t believe does anything that necessarily stems COVID, you know, it helps us flatten the curve. I don’t know if that happens at all, but I do think it does a couple different things,” Cruse said. “I think it first and foremost provides ample opportunity for our staff to get more well prepared for doing two different jobs and that’s in-person instruction and remote instruction. So it gives us additional planning time for that, that I think our staff really does need and another thing I think it does for us a little bit in another experimental way is that starting the here on the (Aug.) 3rd, you know, a lot of activities start here at the high school, you know, being football and band and volleyball and cross country. (...) If we are going to see a student spike, that may be when we see it.”
Cruse said to the best of his knowledge during the strength and conditioning held over the summer there were no COVID-19 positive tests as a result of the workouts.
Cruse said the back to school task force, which consists of parents and staff within the district is currently working on a document that will detail the district’s back to school plan. Cruse said in a ParentSquare message that he expects that to be released publicly by the end of the week. Locally, the district has released surveys regarding school changes such as the community’s opinion on in-person versus remote instruction.
“We have run several surveys in the last couple weeks and also (been) working with our return to school task force that we’ve added. We’ve had really good participation in that task force,” Cruse said.
The survey taken on July 23 for moving the school start date had two options of Aug. 24 and Aug. 31, with 709 parents, 107 staff and 18 students voting. The Aug. 31 date had 70% of the parent vote, 63.6% of the staff vote and 94.4% of the student vote. The original survey taken by the school had three options with the addition of Aug. 17 as the start date. In that survey taken on July 22, 49.1% of parents, 39% of staff and 39% of students chose to move the date to Aug. 31.
A survey of the model of instruction was also taken on July 22, with 700 parents, 172 staff and 77 students responding. For in-person instruction, 72.3% of parents, 77.9% of staff and 79% of students were for the model.
For more on the story, read the Aug. 1 edition of The Graham Leader.