LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Lubbock Independent School District is following the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics to have students physically present on its campuses.
The upcoming school year is set to begin on Aug. 17. During a Tuesday news conference LISD laid out its plan for students to make their return.
See that news conference here: LISD outlines health priorities as students prepare to return
Because of COVID-19, students have the option of attending classes virtually or on-campus. Parents will have to let the district know by Aug. 3 which option they will choose.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics says kids need to be educated, they need to be placed in a safe environment,” Dr. Douglas Klepper, the district’s medical consultant and local pediatrician, said. “And just like what LISD has said, if you’re safe environment is your home, we’ll be able to support you.”
But the push toward getting students on campus is to make sure they do not fall behind educationally.
The AAP says children not being in a school places them at more of a risk of, “morbidity and, in some cases, mortality.” Students going to school also ensures more food security, which LISD has focused on since schools were closed after spring break.
More than one million meals have been given to students across the district. And for those learning virtually, meals will continue to be provided.
“But from a health authority speaking, we encourage you to give (returning to school) strong consideration,” Klepper said.
The district says about 60 percent of parents want their child to return to class in the coming fall, Kathy Rollo, LISD superintendent said.
The district has a plan in place in case there are any students who test positive for coronavirus or are in close contact with others who test positive. However, LISD will not be able to test students, but will need the Lubbock Health Department for that.
The health department has also provided guidelines for the district to follow so it can go through the contact tracing process itself. Either the district or the health department will notify parents of any exposure.
“I talk daily with Katherine Wells, (the director of the Lubbock Health Department), in regards to questions and regards to if somebody needs to stay home, the length of time and what exactly we need to ask specifically,” Paulett Rozneck, LISD’s coordinator of students health services, said.
This year only parents or a student’s legal guardian will be able to visit. Anyone who needs to see an administrator will have to schedule an appointment in advance.
Busing will also be different, as there will only be one student allowed on a bus seat unless they are from the same family. And in-between routes, buses will be thoroughly cleaned.
Students will still be able to eat together inside school cafeterias, but they will not be allowed to face one another. They are only able to sit side-by-side.
“There still will be an opportunity to meet that teacher. There still will be an opportunity to take that first-day picture,” Misty Rieber, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said. “It’s just going to look a little bit different.”
If any problems arise during the school year, students will have the opportunity to transitions from on-campus learning to online learning or vice versa.
However, if a student is learning online, they will be required to check-in daily and attend classes. There will also be virtual school schedules that students must follow.
Teachers will also be solely dedicated to teaching in a virtual school. But those teaching face-to-face may also have to teach virtually if a child needs to stay home for a short period of time.
“You don’t have to decide virtual or face-to-face (learning) until Aug. 3,” Rollo said. “But if you would go ahead and then register your child for school, that way we know and we can expect them.”