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If there was ever a time a crystal ball was needed, this would be the time. It is very difficult to plan for something when you don’t know what the future holds. Preparing for the return to school this summer feels something like this. I am proud of the work of the Little Elm ISD educators who have spent weeks designing a school learning environment that will keep everyone healthy and safe for a fall return, either in-school or at-home learning.
We serve more than 8,000 students and nearly 1,000 staff, which represents thousands of questions and concerns for fall return plans. We know through a recent ThoughtExchange in early June, a majority of our families plan to send their child to in-school learning in the fall. But there is one, very complicated stipulation; it has to be the safest place for all students and staff. Monday, July 6, we opened Returning Student Registration and included a choice for our families to consider:
We have asked for a choice commitment by July 17 for us to know how many students we will be serving either through In-School or At-Home Learning. This will allow us to properly staff and train in order to provide the best possible learning experience.
Keeping it Normal as Best We Can
Recess, Lunch, and Passing Periods
We have received many questions and concerns about how the District is going to handle these three important social, emotional, and physical activities inside our school. The plan is to have it as traditional as we possibly can. In this uncertain world, the bottom line is our parents want kids to be kids. However, as we have learned recently by the latest executive order requiring people to wear face coverings in public places where social distancing is not feasible, our plans are subject to change. District and campus leadership teams plan to meet the week of July 13 to determine the details at each campus after they return to their contracted days of service. Once those campus plans are developed, we will share with our staff and families. Thank you for your patience as we spend more time reviewing the District protocols we have in place on this very important topic.
The latest executive order from the Governor is that every person, where social distancing is not feasible, wear a face covering. The District has plans to purchase enough masks for every student and every staff member. Understand, we know it will be tough to get 8,000+ students to wear a face covering for 6-7 hours a day while at school. When we meet with our campus principals, we will discuss how this will be implemented and the details of that plan will be shared.
Health Checks, Water Bottles, and Hand Sanitizer
We will need your help keeping our students healthy and safe when they return in the fall. Your cooperation and support is critical to prevent the potential spread of any virus.
Daily Health Screenings
We are asking parents or guardians to help us by screening their child before sending them to school each day. If a child is sick, he/she needs to stay at home. We have created a flow chart to help families understand what they need to do in the event their child is sick. We will be printing this helpful information and giving them to all of our families.
Little Elm ISD will install water bottle filler stations at every campus to prevent the potential spread of viruses from students using water fountains. We are asking families to supply students with a water bottle they can use each day at school.
Little Elm ISD will provide every campus hand sanitizer. We are also asking students to bring a bottle as part of their school supplies. This will ensure we have a continuous supply of hand sanitizer in each classroom.
The Waiting Game
The speed of change during the COVID-19 crisis has taken school leaders on a wild goose chase searching for the best possible solutions to a very complex and complicated issue. Our state and local officials, Texas Education Agency and Denton County Health Department, are faced with very big decisions that seem to change on a dime. We are meeting twice a week with the TEA discussing these changes and we as leaders review and adapt as necessary as we continue to prepare for a fall launch of the school year. Thank you for your patience as we wait for those officials to rule on health and safety standards as well as curriculum standards.
SAFELobo Website: Back to School Information
We have updated the SAFELobo website we used in the spring that provided all of our families with the information needed during the school closure. This page will continue to serve as your source of back-to-school information as it relates to COVID-19. When state and county officials make final decisions, our responses will reflect those changes. It is important to remember that a disclaimer like this will be a part of our communication for now and the foreseeable future:
Due to the ever-changing nature of COVID-19, the details on this page are subject to change as directives are provided by governing authorities and/or health officials or as environmental conditions change.
The plans we are organizing today may require revisions if something changes. Rest assured, Little Elm ISD administrators and three school board members who serve on our COVID-19 committee are frequently reviewing, researching, and discussing the best possible courses of action as this crisis progresses.
As always, we appreciate your feedback, grace, and patience as we finalize our plans with a focus on safety for all.
Sincerely,Daniel Gallagher, Superintendent