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Above, San Marcos Consolidated ISD Superintendent Michael Cardona gives the board of trustees an update on the district's school plan for the upcoming year at a meeting on July 6. Screenshot from SMCISD video

San Marcos CISD to unveil school plan at next board meeting

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Texas Education Agency announced comprehensive guidelines for students to return to in-person learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, which includes mandated health procedures and the options for on-campus or remote learning. 

The TEA’s health procedures include screening all students, teachers, staff and visitors coming to campus and mandating masks be worn in school buildings. Parents will have the option to send their students to school or choose to have their students work remotely.

“Both as Commissioner and as a public school parent, my number one priority is the health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff,” Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a statement.  “That is why the guidance laid out (Tuesday) will provide flexibility to both parents and districts to make decisions based on the ever-changing conditions of this public health crisis.”

Meanwhile, San Marcos Consolidated ISD plans to unveil its own plan for the upcoming 2020-21 school year at its regular board of trustees meeting on July 20. 

As the district crafts its own guidelines for the school year, SMCISD Superintendent Michael Cardona said TEA’s announcement didn’t provide much guidance. 

“This week’s TEA announcement was disappointing because it did not provide much guidance and it did not adequately balance student needs with staff concerns as well as constraints placed on local school districts due to COVID-19,” Cardona said in a letter to parents. “As we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, SMCISD will continue to adjust and move forward to create the best possible solution.”

Cardona said during an agenda preparation meeting on July 6 that the district is trying to narrow down what school will look like when students arrive for the first day of classes on Aug. 24. 

“What we do know is COVID-19 is going to be around and that we don’t know the answers,” Cardona said on July 6. “Some of the things we decide will make people happy and some will not make people happy, and we understand that.” 

The superintendent added that the district plans to check temperatures to start the day and will only allow 12 students on a school bus at a time. SMCISD plans to require face coverings for students and staff. The district is also working on building plexiglass barriers for classrooms. 

The upcoming school board meeting will take place at 6 p.m. on July 20 and can be viewed at smcisd.net/page/320. 

According to TEA’s newly announced guidelines, school districts will have an option to enact a phased return to on-campus learning for up to the first three weeks of the school year, to ensure all health and safety procedures are established. 

Additionally, the TEA stated that it will allow school districts to reimburse extra COVID-19-related expenses incurred during the previous school year, and will also provide “tens of millions” of personal protective equipment supplies to school systems at no cost. 

“The state is and remains committed to providing a high-quality education to all Texas students, while ensuring the health and safety of students, teachers, staff, and families,” Morath said

San Marcos Record

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