2020-21 school reopening

We are excited to welcome our students and staff back to school in August, whether we see you in-person or virtually. We are working to ensure a safe and productive environment for all. See below for current information regarding plans for reopening schools. Please note that details are subject to change based on guidelines from local, state and federal authorities. 

Key details 

Two learning options for students

Garland ISD families will be required to select from two options for each student. We will communicate the process for making the choice soon.

  • Option 1: Full-time in-person on campuses, with heightened hygiene and disinfection protocols.
  • Option 2:  Full-time virtual eLearning with district-provided technology and internet hotspots, as needed.

School year calendar and school hours are changing

  • The school  year calendar has been revised to include intersession weeks. The first day of school is Monday, Aug. 10 and school hours have changed to allow for ten additional minutes of instructional times. See the updated school year calendar page for details.
  • The new calendar features intersession weeks, which consist of special days where students have the opportunity to participate in remediation, acceleration or enrichment activities, similar to summer school offerings in previous years. Students who qualify for remediation will be strongly encouraged to attend, either in-person or virtually, but attendance is optional. Some teachers may choose to work for extra pay during that time. Staff and students who do not work or attend school will have the intersession week off. 

Reopening frequently asked questions

General questions

Why isn’t GISD offering a hybrid option like other districts?

GISD investigated multiple options, including hybrid models such as half-time in-person and half-time virtual. Many factors were examined, including whether or not half-time attendance actually limits exposure, the logistics for families and for classroom teachers, and the evolving guidelines from the Texas Education Agency.  We determined that providing two choices so that families can make the best personal decision was the best option.

If I choose one option and want to change the choice later in the year, can I make a switch?

Yes, virtual school is a fluid option that can be accessed at any time. It is highly recommended that students only make a change at the nine week grading period, if possible.

What if most families choose the traditional option? Would there have to be changes to accommodate social distancing or will there be a limit of how many students can select the traditional 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.

How will you address social emotional or mental health concerns?

Counselors are available to support students academically, socially, and emotionally and can provide mental health support or resources for families who may be struggling emotionally. Access to schedule a meeting with a GISD counselor or to find a list of local counseling based resources can be found on the district website.To ensure staff is equipped to address social and mental health concerns, Guidance and Counseling will continue to host training opportunities including trauma informed care, mental health first aid, and social emotional learning.

Will teachers get to choose if they want a virtual or traditional in-person schedule?

Those decisions will be determined based on medical certifications/documentation from employees’ physicians. At this time, planning decisions include the possibility of requiring virtual teachers to report to a GISD facility to utilize GISD internet and instructional materials to lead virtual eLearning classroom instruction.

What will staff do if they have to quarantine or if they get sick? Will the district provide extra sick or personal days for staff?

Requirements to quarantine are determined by the health department. In addition to existing leave balances in effect for employees,Garland ISD will follow all provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which is in effect through December 31, 2020.  The FFCRA provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave for specific situations related to COVID-19.

 

We also have a pool of over 600 substitute teachers who have committed to working for the 2020-21 school year. We will continue to recruit and train substitute teachers so that we have an adequate number.

Traditional school

What precautions will be in place on campus?

We will implement increased signage around campuses promoting disease mitigation strategies, increased cleaning and sanitation practices, as well as frequent reminders of hand hygiene and social distancing. 

We have ordered plexiglass shields for use in high traffic areas such as front office reception, cafeteria lines and cafeteria tables.  In addition, we are exploring a possible vendor for clear face shields for staff and students. We will update this information as it becomes available. 

Our full safety and reopening plan must be submitted to TEA and to Dallas County for approval. It will also be posted online, once approved. GISD will comply with all health and safety recommendations established by the health department and Texas Education Agency.

Will students and staff be required to wear masks?

We will comply with mandates of Dallas County regarding requiring face coverings. In addition, we are exploring other options and working to secure a possible vendor for clear face shields for staff and students. We will update this information as soon as it is available.

Will buses run?

Yes, transportation will be provided for all who qualify. Bus transportation is provided for all special needs students when required by the students ARD and IEP. 

General education students will be provided transportation, if eligible from the designated transportation areas to each campus or if they are enrolled in an eligible magnet program. Transportation is not guaranteed to your school of choice if you do not reside in a designated transportation area for that campus. 

Will social distancing be observed on buses, and how will seating arrangements be determined?

Students will be assigned specific seats, and a seating chart will be maintained by the bus driver.  Students are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings and use hand sanitizer prior to boarding the school bus.

Students are required to remain seated at all times and keep their hands and arms to themselves. Students should not touch each other or share any items. 

School buses will be cleaned and disinfected twice per day.

How will schools monitor bathrooms, cafeterias, gyms, and other commons areas?

All areas of the campus will be monitored frequently to ensure there is no student crowding. Classrooms will be assigned specific bathroom, breakfast, lunch and gym access times to limit the number of students in any given area.  Signage reminding students and staff about handwashing, social distancing, and infection prevention will be posted throughout the school and in areas mentioned above.

What precautions will be in place for athletics, fine arts and other extracurricular activities?

Safety guidelines have been developed for conducting all on-campus workouts, rehearsals, and practices. The district  will continue to follow all guidelines provided by UIL, TEA, and the state.

Can students who attend in-person school get hotspots if they don’t have internet at home?

Yes, GISD has invested in 10,000 hotspots so that all students who need them will have access.

Will students have recess or the ability to play and socialize with other students?

We are awaiting guidance from the Texas Education Agency on recess activities.  We are anticipating providing sneeze guards/plexiglass shields for common areas such as cafeteria tables, and front office reception areas, etc. and continuing our increased cleaning and hand washing protocols.

What happens if a student or a teacher tests positive for COVID-19? Will the entire classroom have to quarantine and enroll in virtual school? What if multiple classrooms and students/staff are impacted?

When notification of a possible exposure occurs, GISD, in coordination with local health authorities, will begin contact tracing and complete a thorough risk assessment. Based on this assessment, a determination as to whether an entire classroom or multiple classrooms are required to quarantine will be made. Students will have the opportunity to access virtual content during the quarantine period.

Virtual school

How will we register for virtual school? Will I be able to make the choice or does the district choose for me?

Parents will be able to make the choice online for virtual school soon. All parents will be required to select to enroll in either virtual or traditional school.  Once virtual school selection is available, this will be communicated via all district communication channels.

Can students who select virtual school still participate in athletics and extracurricular activities?

Yes, students who select virtual school may participate in extracurricular activities  if they meet all UIL requirements, are enrolled in the applicable extracurricular course section, and are able to attend on-campus practices and competitions. Students must have their own transportation to and from practices, rehearsals, etc.

Will students remain enrolled at their school if they choose virtual school? Will they lose their spot?

Yes.  Students will remain enrolled at their school and will retain their seat at their current campus of choice.

Will meals be provided for students who select virtual school?

There are currently no state or federal regulations that allow districts to serve meals to students who are not present on campus, although guidelines are expected in the near future. Options are being explored for providing meals to qualified students who select virtual school.

Are immunizations required for virtual school?

Yes, at this time the Texas Department of State Health Services has not waived the vaccine requirements for students.

 

Will students in a magnet program still have the option to select virtual school and remain in the magnet program?

Yes, students in magnet programs may select the virtual school option and still retain their magnet seats.

How will virtual school be different from at-home learning during the closure last spring?

Students who select virtual school will be required to attend and participate in class daily during regular school hours, and instruction will be led by a teacher.  In the spring last year, students’ assignments were limited. Virtual school this year will be a full course load of instruction and assignments that is comparable to what students who are attending school in-person will be required to complete. Teachers delivering virtual instruction will receive additional training and support in digital teaching strategies and using online curriculum for virtual school. 

How will virtual school be staffed?

Schools will continue to be staffed based upon student enrollment. The virtual campus versus traditional onsite staffing will be determined by enrollment and student course selections.

How will technology and hotspots be distributed?

Technology devices and hotspots will be distributed from students’ home campuses.

Will hotspots be given per household/family or per student?

Hotspots and technology devices will be given individually to each student.