August 10, 2020
Dear TSD Families,
On Monday Aug. 17 we will welcome students and their families back to school. TSD will begin the school year 100 percent virtual (online) for the first three weeks.
After the first three weeks of virtual learning we will review guidance from the local Austin-Travis County Health Department, the Governor’s office and TEA regarding on-campus learning. As of today, we are planning on-campus learning beginning on September 8 for those families that choose this option.
This is the reason you are receiving this final and official poll today on your preference for on-campus or online learning. All families must complete the poll by August 17.
For those who choose virtual learning, TSD principals and supervisors will provide a virtual schedule to guide students in designing learning throughout the day, including time for independent learning activities, and daily virtual engagement with the teacher and other students.
For those who choose in-person learning, TSD will follow the traditional instructional schedule as determined by individual departments, and the after-school schedule for athletics and extracurricular activities.
You will be receiving a comprehensive TSD Reopening Guide in the next week which will outline all of the protocols and will provide you much more in-depth information about what will be in place for virtual and in-person learning as well as detailed health and safety protocols and the guidelines for residential living. For now, here is a quick FAQ that might help.
We can’t wait to welcome back our students. Don’t forget to register your choice!
To view the Superintendent’s Updates in ASL, please go to the following address:
How were the decisions made to offer in-person instruction?
TSD has been working under the latest guidance provided by the Texas Education Agency, Governor Greg Abbott, and various health agencies and organizations. TEA has made the decision that Texas public schools must offer both virtual and on campus learning.
As the situation with COVID-19 evolves, that direction may change. TSD will continue to look for updated guidance from the state as to the most appropriate way to educate students while also prioritizing the needs of the whole child and the health and safety of students, staff, and the community.
When will my family need to make a decision on students attending in-person learning at school or remote learning at home?
Parents will need to decide by August 17 on which option to choose for each child in their family. According to the Texas Education Agency, parents will have until two weeks before the start of school to make their decision.
If I choose one option and want to change the choice later in the year, can I make a switch?
Yes, after the school year begins, a parent may switch their student’s instruction style (virtual learning or on-campus learning) at the end of a 9-week grading period.
Will TSD require the use of masks for on-campus instruction?
Yes, all students and staff members will be required to wear masks when on campus with the exception of students under the age of 2. We will also comply with all mandates regarding social distancing, as well as CDC health and hygiene protocols.
What should families with students who have health issues and are at high risk for infection choose?
Each family must consider their unique situation to make a personal determination. TSD will be in contact with families of high-risk students to assist families in making informed decisions. In some cases, TSD may request new plans of care for high risk students.
What if most families choose the in-person option? Would there have to be changes to accommodate social distancing or will there be a limit of how many students can select the on-campus option?
We will be able to provide instruction to all students in whichever format their families choose. We will also comply with all mandates regarding social distancing, as well as health and hygiene protocols.
Why does TSD need to hear back from families sooner rather than later?
It is very important for TSD to know how many students will be returning to campus on September 8. This will help us when planning for master schedules, classroom space, remote learning, and how we can best meet the social-emotional needs of our students when they return.
Are our teachers and staff prepared for virtual and in-person learning?
Our teachers and staff have been working hard to prepare for teaching and learning. TSD provided an additional week of training for teachers and staff in order to meet the demands of remote and in-person learning.
How will you address social-emotional or mental health concerns?
Teachers, counselors, SEL coordinators, and staff are available to support students academically, socially, and emotionally. TSD will continue to host training opportunities for all staff including trauma-informed care, mental health first aid, and social-emotional learning.
Will the teachers of remote learning and in-person classrooms be the same?
All students will be taught by TSD teachers. Depending on how our numbers sort out for in-person and virtual, teaching assignments may include both virtual and in-person or exclusively one or the other.
Will the school year calendar be changed or remain as is?
The school calendar attached is correct but is subject to change based on local health officials and governing authorities.
Will grading, GPA calculation and/or class ranking be different between in-person learning and remote learning?
No. According to TEA guidelines, the grading policies for remote learning must be consistent with the TSD’s grading policies for in-person learning.
How will student progress be reported?
Overall progress on learning outcomes will be communicated in a “traditional” format for both virtual and in-person learning.
Will there be STAAR testing in the 2020-21 school year?
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has indicated that STAAR testing will still occur during the 2020-2021 school year, in compliance with state and federal legislation but on an expanded timeline. Students enrolled in grades 5 and 8 are still required to take the appropriate STAAR assessments once. Regardless of their score, retest opportunities will not be provided.
How will teachers address any potential learning gaps from the school closure last spring?
To support all students, teachers will utilize a variety of formative assessments and supplemental resources to personalize student learning to address identified areas of need. TSD will also offer remedial support throughout the year for students who need more intense services.