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LISD adjusts 2020-21 academic calendar

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By Wesley Gardner
LPR Editor

The Lockhart school district Board of Trustees on Monday approved an update to the 2020-21 academic calendar that will ensure the first three weeks of school will be online only.
The update also pushes the first day of instruction to Aug. 24.
“The first three weeks of school will be 100% online for the safety of students, allowing more time to track COVID-19 cases regionally and ensure it is safe to begin on-campus instruction Monday, Sept. 14, 2020,” said Superintendent Mark Estrada. “This is not the way we envisioned this school year would be, but given the circumstances, our commitment to you is to prioritize the safety of students and staff and deliver quality instruction to our Lions.”
The district had originally planned to give parents the option to allow students to attend school in person or continue with online instruction. Officials noted that option will still be available once campuses reopened on Sept. 14.
Regardless of whether parents choose distance or in-person learning, all students will be issued Chromebooks and school supplies to prepare them for the school year.
Several safety measures will be taken once campuses open to help prevent the spread on Covid-19. All students and faculty members will be required to wear a mask or a face shield while on campus. Desks and tables will be positioned at least six feet apart whenever possible. Shared supplies will be eliminated whenever possible. Blankets, pillows and other non-essential items will be removed whenever possible.
Additionally, students in junior and high school will remain in their homerooms while teachers move from room to room. Multiple locations of hand sanitizer, tissues and trash cans will also be present throughout classrooms to limit student and staff movement.
Officials noted the distance learning option would be more rigorous than what was offered at the end of the last school year. Last year, students were given a week to complete assignments in most cases. This year, distance learning coursework will be on par with in-person coursework, including daily assignments.
Extracurricular activities, such as music classes and sports will still be offered, but they must adhere to University Interscholastic League (UIL) and Texas Education Agency (TEA) guidelines.
In other business, board members voted to approve Pride High School’s application to provide an optional flexible school day program to help students with time restraints graduate.
Last year, former Pride High School Principal Barry Bacom explained the benefits of the program, which the school piloted two years ago.
“The point is to try and improve graduation rates,” said Bacom. “This flexibility might be ideal for students who might have to work, who might have child-care restrictions or students who have health concerns.”
Through the program, Bacom said, students earn minutes for attendance, rather than being counted as absent or present each day. He noted students in the program were allowed to attend school in blocs that better fit into their schedule.
School districts in Texas receive state funding based in part on average daily attendance numbers, which indicates the average number of students who attend a particular school district in a school year.
“We want to be able to fund these students, even though they’re not meeting the other standard, which is 90 percent,” said Bacom. “If they average 4 hours and 10 minutes per day, they’ll meet that standard accumulation of minutes to get that funding.”
According to Bacom, three of the four students enrolled in the program two years ago graduated.

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