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Effects of Covid-19 Pandemic on Three Independent School Districts in North Central Texas


As Covid-19 continues to plague our nation and 179 other nations of the world. I present to you the following paper.

Effects of Covid-19 Pandemic on Three Independent School Districts in North Central Texas

Kathy A. Challis

The University of Texas of Permian Basin

Abstract

The Covid-19 Pandemic Virus had a significant impact on education and communities. On April 17, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order to close Texas schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year”. In response, K-12 schools and Universities went to on-line distance learning. We will look at three Independent Schools in the following districts, Burleson, Fort Worth, and Richardson to see how they have handled the pandemic of 2019-2020, With President Donald Trump’s edict to safely reopen the schools in Fall of 2020, we explore the tentative plans tor these three districts to open for the 2020-2021 school terms…

Keywords:  COVID-19, Coronavirus, Abbott,  K-12 School

Current Effects

Why the effects of  CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19) is important to school districts.

“On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. The new name of this disease is Coronavirus Disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for the disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”. There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.”

On March 31, 2020, “Governor Greg Abbott ordered Texas schools closed and to not be reopened until May 4 to reduce the spread of COVID-19 Then, on  April 17, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order to close Texas schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.  

Are there any suggestions on “How To” operate in virtual learning?

Fort Worth ISD offers the following suggestions for virtual learning:

“Stay in touch with your child’s school.

Create a schedule and routine for learning at home, but remain flexible.

Consider the needs and adjustments required for your child’s age group.

The transition to being at home will be different for preschoolers, K-5, middle school students, and high school students. Talk to your child about expectations and how they are adjusting to being at home versus at school.

Look for ways to make learning fun”.

Is distance learning available to all students in the least restrictive environment?

“Helping children understand and follow recommendations, like social distancing and wearing cloth face coverings, can be challenging if your child has intellectual disabilities, sensory issues, or other special healthcare needs.

 Many schools are offering lessons online (virtual learning).

What accommodations will be made for teachers who are high-risk, or who live with a high-risk person?

.

Will regular campus in-person learning be available during the initial pandemic of 2019-2020 school terms?

2019-20 No! Only essential staff will be allowed on campus during the school closure.

The risk of COVID-19 spread increases in school settings as follows:

Lowest Risk: Students and teachers engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events.

More Risk: Small, in-person classes, activities, and events. Groups of students stay together and with the same teacher throughout/across school days and groups do not mix. Students remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects (e.g., hybrid virtual and in-person class structures or staggered/rotated scheduling to accommodate smaller class sizes).

Highest Risk: Full-sized, in-person classes, activities, and events. Students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies, and mix between classes and activities. (CDC)

Will distance learning be available to students during the pandemic of 2019-2020?

 Yes!

How will the following issues be addressed? 

Each school district will be responsible for educating parents and providing loaner equipment. Certain internet providers are providing limited service to school districts

Each school district will be responsible to educating parents on the usage of equipment BISD uses Palm Beach County Library Mousercise. Fort Worth ISD foundational skills can be found at the following: GCF Learn Free, Chrome Music Lab, Jungle Junior Typing for Kids!, Dance Mat Typing, and Typing Club Curriculum. When one goes to http://www.fwisd.edu they can choose links to explain how to access programs.  Under Google, the applications your child is likely using at home including News 2 You, Let’s go Learn, Lexia, Google Meet/(Hangout), and Learning Ally can be accessed via their personalized Class Link page. This is the page that opens when your child logs in to their FWISD account. Students can now simply click on the icons for these programs and login to their account. (fwisd)

Student lessons and instructions should be at their level and capabilities as instructed by their classroom/distance learning teacher. Parents, should not “Do” their child’s assignments. If there are concerns that the instructions are too difficult or easy we ask that the teachers be contacted first in order to resolve the issue.  Students on IEP’s should have adaption or modification as needed by their teacher team.Keeping children at home can lower stress created by social distancing and cloth face-covering recommendations. Reach out to others for help in running essential errands. Behavioral techniques can be used to address behavioral challenges and to develop new routines. These include social stories, video modeling, picture schedules, and visual cues. Try rewarding your child in small ways with his or her favorite non-food treat or activities to help switch routines and to follow recommendations. Many of the organizations you turn to for information and support around your child’s complex, a chronic medical condition may have information on their websites to help families address issues related to COVID-19.

Will home-bound teachers be provided during the initial pandemic school term 2019-2020?

2019-2020 Students who are currently receiving special homebound services prior to COVID-19 will continue to receive services during the pandemic until the school term is exhausted. While learning at home, continue special education services, accommodations, or services received in school through your child’s 504 plan or Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), as much as possible. Many schools are continuing interventions like speech therapy, small group classes, extended time, and more. Learn more about supporting children with distance learning.”

Your child’s therapist(s) and teachers may also have resources to help successfully introduce new routines to your child.

The Teacher Education Agency also has links for Special Learners Education

What extra responsibilities will teachers be tasked with to ensure the safety and cleanliness of the classroom?

For the 2019-2020 school term, the custodial staff has implemented a sanitation practice in line with CDC and OSHA requirements. Teachers have bagged student belongings and delivered them to student parents through a drive-thru method at their school.

 How does social distancing affect student instruction?

All three school districts, 2019-2020 decided it is impossible to host all students and staff at your average brick and mortar school while maintaining a radius distance of  (6’)  six feet apart. In compliance with Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order to close Texas schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. For the remaining staff that is deemed necessary, wearing masks and/or gloves and maintaining the six feet distancing has been in effect since school closure. Staff would include, janitorial, kitchen, security, and office personnel. The principal and teachers are not deemed necessary for personal contact situations, therefore they are required to perform virtual distance-teaching- instruction.

How has Covid-19 changed the way that students are taught in the 2019-2020 school term?

Students will sign in and access their assignments through Google Classroom. Within the assignments posted to their classes, there may be instructions to use additional online resources. At FTWISD, BISD, and RISD many resources are embedded within students’ accounts where students can sign in to their accounts inside the resource by using their sign-in credentials. Some assignments, however, will have direct links to the online resources needed to complete the assignments.

Burleson, Ft. Worth, and Richardson all plan to offer in-person teaching with an on-line option for students at enrollment. It is the consensus that students will be taught in the least restrictive environment with safety as the primary concern.

Future Plans for the School term 2020-2021.

Remarks by President Trump on Safely Reopening America’s Schools  EDUCATION  Issued on: July 7, 2020

“So what we want to do is we want to get our schools open.  We want to get them open quickly, beautifully, in the fall.  And the — as you know, this is a disease that’s a horrible disease, but young people do extraordinarily well.  I was with the governor of New Jersey.  We were talking, and he said, out of — and he mentioned a number which is a very high number, but it’s a — it’s a number nevertheless — thousands of people, there was only one person that died that was under 18 years old in the state of New Jersey, and that was somebody, I guess, had a problem with perhaps diabetes or something else.  But one person out of thousands of people — one person died, who was under 18 years old.  So that’s a pretty amazing stat, when you think of it.”

“THE VICE PRESIDENT leader [of]  the White House Coronavirus Task Force. It’s important that we reopen our schools, as you’ve directed, for the academic and the intellectual development of our children, but it’s also vitally important that we remember, as Dr. McCance-Katz told the governors today, that 7 million American children suffer from either mental illness or emotional disturbance, and they principally receive the care from health and mental services at their school.  And so making sure that we’re — we’re meeting the mental and emotional needs of our children, as well as making advances academically, is what brings us here today.” 

The First Lady: The first pillar of my BE BEST initiative is children’s wellbeing.  And taking care of children’s social, emotional, and physical health has never been more important than during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The administration has worked around the clock to protect Americans from the coronavirus, but many challenges for children and families can be just as invisible as the virus and just as dangerous.

When children are out of school, they are missing more than just time in the classroom.  They’re missing the laughter of their friends, learning from their teachers, and the joy of recess and play.

For children with disabilities, without access to technology or whose homes are not a safe place, the situation can be even worse.

As the start of the school year gets closer, I encourage parents, teachers, and school to teach children about the importance of CDC guidelines and to implement them when appropriate.

Children’s mental health and social development must be as much of a priority as physical health.  The same is true for parents.  Many will be forced to make stressful choices between caring for their children and going back to work.  And we must address those needs as well, as their own mental health and wellbeing.

“Today, Mr. President, as you know, we spoke to the nation’s governors on the topic of this summit.  And we reflected on the fact, as now 47 governors and the governors of 2 territories have announced plans to reopen schools across America, that — that it’s important to do so for a variety of reasons.  The First Lady just spoke of this.  We ought to well be concerned about children falling behind academically, and there’s no substitute for in-classroom learning, for in-person learning — and that’s been much discussed at the summit today.”

Dr. Jimerson Burleson Independent School District (BISD) Superintendent states in his July 03, 2020 video to parents that the goal of BISD is to provide clean, safe, classrooms, and structured routines when the student arrives in school for the 2020-2021 school term, and there will be an element of on-line instruction.

Will home-bound teachers be provided during the initial pandemic school term in the 2020-2021 school term?

2020-2021 Students who are currently receiving special homebound services prior to COVID-19 will continue to receive services during the pandemic until the school term is exhausted. Parents will be able to decide for their child whether in-person instruction or virtual instruction will take place upon enrollment in the 2020-21 school terms.

Is distance learning available to all students in the least restrictive environment?

Yes, the same methods employed in 2019-2020 virtual learning will take place during the 2020-2021 school term, with the added benefit of students a choice to attend in-person instruction or remain on virtual instruction.  Fort Worth ISD (FWISD), Richardson (RISD), and Burleson (BISD) will continue to offer this practice in 2020-2021.

Will regular campus in-person learning be available during the initial pandemic of the 2020-2021 school term? Yes.

Will distance learning be available to students during the pandemic of 2020-2021 school terms?

Yes!

How will the following issues be addressed? 

  1. Lack of internet service or computer system

Each school district will be responsible for educating parents and providing loaner equipment. Certain internet providers are providing limited service to school districts

  • Lack of parental knowledge of using computer/internet

Each school district will be responsible to educating parents on the usage of equipment.

  • Lack of parental ability to help teach/coach assignments, for Regular and SPED students.

Student lessons and instructions will be like the 2019-2020 post-COVID-19 initiative  

As Schools Plan for Reopening, Worried Teachers Say They Have More Questions Than Answers By Madeline Will on June 30, 2020, Teacher Education Week publication.

If a teacher is exposed to someone with COVID-19, will they have to use their sick days of self-quarantine for two weeks? The CDC answers this question as follows.

When a teacher or student is suspected of having CORVID-19, they ought to seek medical attention to confirm or deny the diagnosis of Covid-19.

Follow the CDC’s guidelines for managing COVID-19 at home. Actively encourage employees and students who are sick or who have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 to stay home.  According to the CDC one should develop policies that encourage sick employees and students to stay at home without fear of reprisal, and ensure employees, students, and students’ families are aware of these policies.

Staff and students should stay home if they have tested positive for or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.

What accommodations will be made for teachers who are high-risk, or who live with a high-risk person during the 2020-2021 school term? The same accommodations suggested by the CDC, TEA, and WHO are implemented.

What extra responsibilities will teachers be tasked with to ensure the safety and cleanliness of the classroom during the 2020-2021 school term?

For the 2020-21 term an excerpt from Fort Worth ISD website follows:

As the Fort Worth ISD continues to prepare for the option of “in-person instruction” this fall strict new protocols are being put into place for every campus. New rules for the 2020-21 academic year will mean schools are cleaned multiple times during the daytime hours rather than in the evening as has been the practice for many years.  The Independent School Districts are also making a significant investment in both PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) –for both adults and children—as well as cleaning supplies for campuses and other FWISD facilities.  That includes the purchase of cloth and disposable masks, face shields, and gloves.  The see-through face shields will be utilized in situations where facial recognition and cues are essential, especially for younger children and those students who may have special needs. Additionally: Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes will be a staple in every classroom.

Custodial staff will use EPA-approved disinfectants to regularly and rigorously clean “high-touch areas” during the school day. Each school will be cleaned again when classes conclude. 

Will distance learning be available to students during the pandemic of  2020-2021 school terms?

Yes! The USA wasn’t affected until the Winter of 2020.  In June 2020, the Fort Worth Board of Directors has decided to allow both in-person at school and distance/virtual learning to be available to parents to select for their child for the 2020-2021 school term.  Fort Worth has the Learning at Home Resources for the Parents login page for Distance Learning instructions. (LHRP)

How has Covid-19 changed the way that students are taught in the 2020-2021 school term?

Students will sign in and access their assignments through the school’s main webpage.. At FTWISD, BISD, and RISD many resources are embedded within students’ accounts where students can sign in to their accounts inside the resource by using their sign-in credentials. Some assignments, however, will have direct links to the online resources needed to complete the assignments.  Burleson, Ft. Worth, and Richardson all plan to offer in-person teaching with an on-line option for students at enrollment. It is the consensus that students will be taught in the least restrictive environment with safety as the primary concern.

In conclusion, the CORVID-19 has forever changed the way we view primary education, no longer will K-12th grades be strictly in a brick and mortar building. With Virtual Distance Learning, a child can learn from any location where internet service is provided. One interesting fact about COVID-19 is “ Most people who get COVID-19 recover from it. Most people who get COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms and can recover thanks to supportive care. If you have a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early – call your health facility by telephone first. If you have a fever and live in an area with malaria or dengue seek medical care immediately.” (CDC)

References

BISD- Burleson Independent School District

Chrome Music Lab  https://musiclab.chromeexperiments.com/Experiments

CDC1-  Center for Disease Control (2020) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html

CDC2- The Centers for Disease Control  (2019)  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html

Dance Mat Typing @ https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/zf2f9j6/articles/z3c6tfr

Education Service Center for Region XI. https://www.esc11.net/Page/8808 reviewed 07/03/2020. https://www.esc11.net/Domain/1365

Foundational Computer Skills  GCF LearnFree.Org @ https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/

FTWISD1- Fort Worth Independent School District (2020)  www.fwisd.edu

FWISD2- FWISD Plans for New Cleaning Protocols in 2020-21 School Year Posted by Fort Worth ISD on 7/6/2020 9:00:00 AM

GCF LearnFree.Org @ https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CREATIVE RESEARCH THOUGHTS – IJCRT

Jungle Junior: Typing for Kids! (Multilingual) @ https://www.typingclub.com/kids-typing

Learning at Home Resources for Parents https://sites.google.com/teachers.fwisd.org/learnathomefamilyresources/home

Palm Beach County Library Mousercise!@ http://www.pbclibrary.org/mousing/mousercise.htm

Paxton, Kent,  Attorney Generals Office March 25, 2020. https://www.esc11.net/site/handlers/filedownload.ashx?moduleinstanceid=14989&dataid=24255&FileName=AG%20Opinion%20March%2025%202020.pdf

Richarson Independent School District (2020)  http://www.richardson.k12.tx.us/

Scholastic Classroom Magazine https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/coronavirus.html

SASS- Special Academic Support Services, go to https://www.smore.com/b9e2z

TEA- Texas Education Agency  www.tea.gov

Will, Madeline  As Schools Plan for Reopening, Worried Teachers Say They Have More Questions Than Answers By  on June 30, 2020, Teacher Education Week publication

Typing Club Curriculum (Multilingual) @ https://www.typingclub.com/ (IJCRT.ORG)

WHO1- The World Health Organization (WHO):  https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

WHO2: “Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) advice for the public: Myth busters”: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters  

   Remarks by President Trump on Safely Reopening America’s Schools

 EDUCATION  Issued on: July 7, 2020