FISD Prepares Various Scenarios for the 2020-21 School Year

Jun 11, 2020

June 17, 2020 Update: Frisco ISD will wait for additional guidance from the Texas Education Agency before finalizing our plans for the 2020-21 school year. The District hopes to communicate our plans by early July.

As the District plans for the first day of school on August 13, it reflects on input from staff, families and government agencies while embracing the lessons learned from eLearning this spring. It is a balancing act that carries a great deal of weight and responsibility.

“More than anything else, we want to start the school year as normal as possible with face-to-face instruction,” said Chief Academic Officer Wes Cunningham. “We miss serving our students and working with our colleagues in the way we know is the best format – with our students in our buildings. 

“However, we have a duty to prepare for multiple contingencies. We have heard from concerned families and staff and there simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.”

FISD, along with every district around the state, is obligated to prepare for a variety of contingencies. The District will adhere to required guidelines and consider recommendations provided by a number of governing agencies including the Texas Education Agency (TEA), University Interscholastic League (UIL), Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Collin County Health Department and Denton County Public Health, as well as the executive orders of Governor Greg Abbott. 

On Monday, FISD was able to begin summer strength and conditioning training for high school athletes across the District. Students and coaches are following UIL guidelines, which include a daily health screening process and an emphasis on social distancing, personal hygiene and enhanced sanitation procedures. 

TEA provides daily updates on its COVID-19 support page where an exhaustive amount of valuable information can be found. 

“We receive guidance from agencies daily and we are molding our plans accordingly as we plan the 2020-21 school year,” Cunningham said. “We want to be able to pivot quickly and have plans in place to support our staff and students as we are directed.

“Considering that the District created an eLearning program over the course of a weekend, planning over the summer for the fall semester provides a great deal more time for us to prepare. Our goal is to be consistent with what we are providing families, whether they have a child at elementary, middle or high school.”

Potential Learning Environments

Learning Environment ContinuumCurrently, the District is planning for three separate learning environments and additional choices within these options.

  • Face-to-Face Instruction

  • Hybrid Instruction

  • Virtual Instruction

The District recognizes that this is not a one-size-fits-all situation and some families may even want to choose more than one option within their own family. 

There is also a chance that multiple scenarios may play out over the course of the 2020-21 school year based on infection rates and directives from government entities. No matter what, Frisco ISD is actively preparing for multiple approaches to the school year.

Face-to-Face Instruction

While this learning experience will be extremely familiar, the District anticipates it may have to adhere to guidelines from governing entities for additional safety measures. While the District does not know what safety measures will be required or suggested, it is proactively preparing for multiple measures including:

  • A permanent switch to alcohol-based hand sanitizer

  • Daily deep sanitations of campuses and buses, especially high touch areas

  • Hand sanitizer on school buses with masked drivers

  • Wayfinding signage encouraging social distancing

  • Regular hand washing procedures

  • Mandatory training for all staff on coronavirus preventative strategies

  • A regular lunch schedule across all high schools (no mega lunch)

Face-to-Face Instruction with the Option for Instruction through Virtual Academy

While the District waits on a significant amount of detail from TEA as to how the District can provide virtual instruction while still receiving funding from the state, it is preparing for a Virtual Academy that could potentially be an option for parents who do not wish to send their children to school for in-person classes.

The Virtual Academy would be 100% online instruction with numerous differences from eLearning in the spring based on the feedback received from parents, students and teachers. Key aspects of the Virtual Academy include:

  • A mix of pre-recorded videos and real-time virtual lessons. The addition of real-time lessons to the virtual learning platform is based on feedback the District received regarding eLearning.

  • Regular morning meetings with a chance to catch up virtually

  • Data-driven, personalized enrichment and intervention 

  • The Academy would follow the same scope and sequence as students in the classroom as parents take on the role of the “learning coach.” 

  • This option would provide personalized learning opportunities and require parents to be heavily invested in facilitating daily learning. 

Hybrid Instruction

If the state limits the number of people allowed in a building, the District is preparing for a mix of face-to-face and at-home instruction. 

According to the current plan, the days would have the same start and end times, while different groups of students would be on campus each day. On Mondays, all students would be home to participate in pre-recorded or live lessons. The rest of the week would have students on campus based on which group they are in. See the draft samples below.

Draft Elementary Hybrid Model

Draft Secondary Hybrid Model

The District recognizes that this plan does potentially create childcare difficulties for staff members and parents as they would wear multiple hats at the same time. 

Hybrid Instruction with the Option for Instruction through Virtual Academy

This approach would allow families the choice to participate in either hybrid instruction or 100% online instruction through the Virtual Academy described above. 

Total Virtual Instruction Due to Closure

Total Virtual Instruction is an option for temporary closures and extended closures, as directed by guidelines provided from the host of governing entities.

Thanks to staff, parent and student feedback from eLearning this spring, the District has expanded online offerings as it looks to the new school year. While this approach will seem reminiscent of eLearning, it will be different. Key aspects of Total Virtual Instruction may include:

  • A mix of pre-recorded videos and real-time virtual lessons. The addition of real-time lessons to the virtual learning platform is based on feedback the District received regarding eLearning.

  • Regular morning meetings with a chance to catch up virtually

  • Data-driven, personalized enrichment and intervention 

  • This approach would follow an adjusted but aligned scope and sequence

  • It would offer virtual office hours and district-wide tutoring

  • Expansion to personalized interventions for small groups and individual students 

  • Online tutoring that mimics regular campus-based offerings

  • In this approach, parents act minimally as the “learning coach”

  • Consistent software utilized teacher to teacher, with Canvas as the secondary platform and Seesaw as the elementary platform

  • Embedded social-emotional programming

“At this point there are more unknowns than knowns, but our priority is supporting our students in innovative ways that meet their needs,” said Superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip. “In order to support students, we plan to support staff through job-embedded professional learning opportunities.

“During eLearning, staff took it upon themselves to learn new skills and provide learning experiences that were altogether new. They rose to the challenge and I cannot say enough about how proud I am of the Frisco ISD staff. True to form, they are already actively preparing for the coming year.”

“We’re planning with what information we have at this time,” Cunningham said. “It is likely to change as we continue to get more guidance.” 

The District expects to receive updated information from TEA Commissioner Mike Morath soon and hopes to announce its plan by early July.

“TEA has done a great job providing guidance, support and resources and they’ve answered questions as we have had them,” Cunningham said. “There is a significant amount of planning going on now and we are looking forward to telling the community what they can expect in the 2020-21 school year.”

Everything the District is working on is currently in draft form and subject to change by a host of government agencies. Dozens of employees are actively working together in elementary and secondary task force groups to provide thoughtful and thorough leadership.

For a full account of the Board discussions on the 2020-21 school year, please watch the recording of the June 11 workshop that will be posted here.

The District is committed to sharing any news regarding the new school year throughout the summer so please stay connected through our Frisco ISD website and the District’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

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