TO: Northwest ISD Students, Parents/Caregivers, and Staff

FROM: Ryder Warren, Superintendent

SUBJECT: Superintendent Update

NISD Families,
In our opinion, there is a new COVID challenge that has presented itself. In light of that, I want all NISD stakeholders – students, families, and staff members – to know there is an optional instructional shift (for those interested) to begin the new school year.
If you tuned into my Facebook Live presentation on Wednesday, the point I tried to drive home was that this new COVID challenge (the Delta variant) has forced us to reevaluate decisions on a nearly daily basis to best protect our children and our staff. We have been monitoring the situation, and another serious issue came up last night. We started receiving reports yesterday that there were no more staffed pediatric ICU beds in all North Texas and have confirmed this with our health departments. We are dealing directly with a spike in children being afflicted with COVID – a concern compounded by increasing RSV and flu cases in our hospitals. 
I still firmly believe the most important academic need going into the new school year is to have every one of our students back for In-Person Learning – that is the best method to support them and to dig out of the academic slide we have experienced because of the COVID challenge. However, we have always had Remote Learning in the back of our minds, and considering the new reports, the NISD Curriculum and Instruction Team has convened to solidify a specific model of Remote Learning that would target our students who cannot be vaccinated at this time – K - 6th grade. This is to offer this as an option to parents during our first nine-weeks grading period.
I know we have just five days until school starts, and we are working as quickly as we can. I just need us all to be aware of what is being considered to deal with this challenge. All families, especially our parents and caregivers of our 5- to 11-year-old students, will be getting more information as our plans are finalized. Our K - 6th grade families will also receive a Remote Learning Commitment Form by the end of today.
Remember that all of the 2021-2022 Health and Safety Protocols we shared earlier this week are still in place at this time, but please understand that we will follow the most stringent protocols that are available to us by law in the effort to keep our students and staff as safe as we can. If anything changes with these protocols, our staff members and families will be informed immediately of any updates to better protect ourselves.
To make sure we are all on the same page – because I do have some parents, caregivers, and staff members emailing me and requesting NISD issue a mask mandate in defiance of Governor Abbott’s Executive Order – let me say again we will NOT be doing that. A governor’s executive order, whether we agree with it or not, stands as law until that governor, the state legislature, or the courts change or do away with the order. I am well aware there are three or four counties and approximately five or six school districts that have announced mandates, but the governor’s office has already filed motions to cancel those mandates. A districtwide mask mandate might very well be in our future. But if and when that time comes, we need to have the full force of Texas law behind that mandate to enforce it on 31 different campuses and in the rest of our buildings.
Every school rule that we have for our students and the adults in our buildings is completely supported and/or required by Texas or federal law. The understanding and acceptance that school rules are based on laws is how we achieve compliance. Compliance cannot be attained if any of our rules are against state law, and we can’t really call it a rule or a mandate if we cannot enforce it. If we feel the current COVID status is again bad enough to warrant the mask mandate, we must be able to enforce it for all stakeholders in our buildings. So – we will wait over the next several days to see how the politics is played out on this, then we will make the best decision (in accordance with the law) for our children, families, and staff.
Please understand this … despite all the uncertainty right now, our school year will still be filled with joy, excitement, and learning. In what was supposed to be our post-COVID world, this new school year was going to be our year to return to “normal,” but unfortunately the challenges of COVID are still here. Yes, like many of you, I am frustrated, disappointed, and mad that some of the joy and eagerness for our new school year has been trampled on by COVID - the increasing cases and the Delta variant. But we will work together for our children and each other to make this a phenomenal year. Thank you for supporting our children and our schools.
Ryder Warren, Superintendent
Northwest Independent School District