Dear CCISD Staff and Families:
Your school district has been planning to reopen schools since March. We are ready to roll those yellow buses in your neighborhood, unlock the front doors of 45 schools, and welcome 42,000 boys and girls into our community of learning. It is what we do best.
I am confident and comfortable with our safety protocols because they are deeply rooted in the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Texas Education Agency.
Our school board has infused us with staffing, technology, and the physical resources to successfully and securely reopen our schools. For example, we have added 24 custodians. We have added aides to every campus to help each school nurse. We are hiring additional bus drivers. We have placed an order to provide students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade laptops in the event there is a need to move to remote learning. This brings Clear Creek ISD to a complete 1 to 1 program K through 12, a statement not many other school districts can make. I am thankful to our seven school board members who have been responsive to the needs of staff and students.
We are ready to start brick and mortar school. But as we know, the pandemic continues to affect our community.
Although, I have been working closely with health authorities, physicians, school board members, the Texas Education Agency and superintendents in our region to make the best decisions with the most accurate data, no one has proclaimed to be an expert on this pandemic. The issue we have today is that there is not a single metric, or goal to reach to declare it is “Safe to Return” to brick and mortar, despite our valid efforts to protect students and staff from COVID-19. Like you, I have asked what does “safe” mean? Is it a single digit of positivity rate, 14 days of a downward trend in COVID-19 cases, or it is a vaccine? We still are seeking answers to those important questions from health authorities. We do know that the positive test rates need to continue downward with a goal of 5% positive test rates but that is one of several variables to be considered in multiple counties. We also know that we all must do our part with daily health screenings, remaining calm if and when there is a positive test, and help each other adapt our behaviors so we can mitigate the risk of this virus.
I, like many of my colleagues across the region believe the best environment for a child to receive quality instruction is within the classroom, face-to-face albeit six feet apart from the teacher. We know our schools are the hubs of the community. I am concerned about the increasing sense of isolation, depression and anxiety among students. They need to be with their teachers, their friends, visit with the school counselor, and participate in the activities that bring joy to their lives. The longer our doors remain closed, the more distant children become from those experiences. This realization weighs heavy on my heart and my decision-making. Is it more dangerous to keep our school doors closed? I would argue, yes.
However, I have always said, we will listen to the advice of health officials. There are several phases to our current plan that will enable us to make sure our procedures and protocols are not only adhered to but will change behavior to make sure our students and staff stay healthy.
We are currently in a phase where our 330 new teachers have reported to their respective campuses while band students and strength and conditioning students are continuing at their local campuses. I am proud of our kids and staff to date for staying healthy. Please continue to mask up, socially distance and practice good hygiene habits.
The next phase brings in our 5,000 employees next week to get ready for students through a variety of professional learning activities for online learning as well as introducing our Standard Operating Procedures to safely reopen CCISD. This will take place over a two-week period.
The third transition phase will introduce students in Pre-K, Kindergarten, 6th Grade, 9th Grade and some self-contained classes for students with special needs who selected Brick and Mortar beginning August 31, 2020. This amounts to approximately 9,200 students learning inside CCISD schools. While these three stages are occurring, we will be monitoring our Standard Response Protocols and procedures.
On Monday, I will update the Board of Trustees with a plan that will extend the 3rd transition phase by one week, which will bring the rest of the Brick and Mortar students on campus beginning September 14, 2020 in order to adhere to the guidelines discussed with county health officials. Currently, over 60% of our parents have selected Brick and Mortar for their children.