Face-to-face learning for 2020-21

Boy with mask getting on busFor the 2020-21 school year, parents have the option of choosing to have their student attend full-time in-person on campus. Face-to-face learning is a “traditional” school model, where students physically attend school daily on campus.

Student expectations

Face-to-face is applicable to PreK-12th grade students who are unable to attend in a remote learning capacity.

  • Teachers will take attendance daily on a designated schedule by course and absences will be documented.
  • Students will commit to physically attending all classes as outlined in their schedule and actively participate in learning activities.
  • Courses will follow a published scope and sequence aligned to in-person instruction and will cover all required Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
  • Grading and GPA policies will be in effect, including policies for late work.
  • All students are expected to adhere to the Student Code of Conduct.

Onsite health and safety protocols

We are committed to assuring our campuses are as safe as possible for staff, students, and visitors. The following protocols and procedures will be in place, and additional details can be found in the Reopening School Instructional Guidebook linked below.

Key procedures and protocols for students and parents


  • Parents/guardians are required to complete the Transportation Pre-Screening Form every day before students get on the bus.
    • Parents/guardians and bus drivers will receive an email with approval or denial of bus access
  • Students are required to wear face coverings
  • Seats will be assigned, one student per row
    • Only siblings can sit together

Arrival and dismissal

  • To enter the building, students will be screened and have their temperature checked
    • Parents/guardians cannot walk students inside the school
    • Students should arrive on time
  • Students should sanitize their hands when entering and exiting the building

During the school day

  • Students and staff are required to wear face coverings
    • Campuses will provide all face-to-face learners one washable cloth face mask and one face shield
    • Face shields can be worn in addition to the face mask as an extra layer of protection or as an alternative if face masks are not medically or developmentally appropriate
  • Students should bring their own refillable water bottle each day

Student nutrition services

  • Students will be separated as much as possible by using plexiglass dividers on cafeteria tables or alternating seats. Some campuses may serve meals in the classroom
  • Cashless payments via PayPAMS are encouraged
  • Parents/guardians will not be allowed to drop off meals during the school day

 Additional safety protocols

  • All visitors will be required to wear face coverings while onsite.
  • Increased cleaning and sanitation practices, as well as frequent reminders of hand hygiene and social distancing will be in place at all of our facilities.
  • Improving ventilation in school buildings and other district facilities is an integral component of COVID-19 safeguards. See our operating procedures for ventilation systems for more information. Coupled with social distancing, face coverings, and hand washing, the district provides proven safety and security measures for students, parents/guardians, staff and community members.

See our protocols and procedures in action

See our health guidelines for returning to school.

See how we are preparing for face-to-face learning with our cleaning protocols.

 Frequently asked questions

What authority does the district have to require a child or employee to wear a mask or face shield? Is it up to the discretion of their teacher or coach as to whether or not the student must wear a face covering? [revised 9/17]

Schools are required to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order GA-29 regarding the wearing of masks. In addition to the executive order, TEA has delegated authority to school districts to require the use of masks or face shields for adults or students for whom it is developmentally appropriate. Under this authority, GISD is requiring face coverings.


Face masks are not optional for students and staff who are on campus. While it may be impractical for students to wear masks or face shields during participation in athletic or other extracurricular activities, TEA has specified that schools must require students, teachers, staff, and visitors to wear masks or face shields when entering and exiting facilities and practice areas, as well as other areas where social distancing is not possible.

Schools may, for example, allow students who are actively exercising to remove masks or face shields, as long as they maintain at least six feet of distance from other students, teachers, and staff. However, schools must require students, teachers, and staff to wear masks or face shields as they arrange themselves in positions that will allow them to maintain safe distancing.

For the purposes of school attendance, mask requirements include either a non-medical grade disposable face mask, a cloth face covering (over the nose and mouth), or a full-face shield to protect the eyes, nose, and mouth. 

Are there restrictions on the type of face masks that students can wear? [revised 9/8/20]

Bandanas and other coverings that do not fit snugly against the face, gaiters that are made of thin polyester/fleece material, and masks with vents are not allowed in learning environments or hallways because they do not effectively prevent the spread of respiratory droplets into the air.

Fine arts and athletics participants have special PPE that will be used while engaged in those specific activities. For additional information, view Dallas County’s Masking Guidance for Schools

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 eligibility 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 required to wear face coverings and are strongly encouraged to 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 participate in face-to-face learning 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 providing sneeze guards/plexiglass shields for common areas such as cafeteria tables, and front office reception areas, etc. and are 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.

How many students will be in my child’s class?

Parents can expect class sizes to be smaller than typical years due to students participating in remote learning. An approximate number or range of students in each class is difficult to predict until GISD receives commitment forms from families. Once this preliminary data is available, the district can begin planning master schedules and determining class sizes.

Will cafeterias be open and will school meals be served?

Meal service may include a combination of meal service in the cafeteria with classroom service, as well. Elementary schools will stagger cafeteria service, allowing students to pick up hot meals and return to class for consumption. Computerized kiosk systems (with added plexiglass sneeze guards) may be used at the secondary level to provide more opportunity for social distancing -- serving grab-n-go meals. 

What happens if a student arrives at school ill or becomes ill?

We will have an isolation area where students will be kept until a parent arrives to pick them up.  Students who are to be sent home ill must be picked up within 30 minutes of being notified their child is ill.

Will students who participate in face-to-face learning be required to wear standardized dress?

All campuses with standardized dress will continue to have the same requirements.


What happens if a student or teacher is confirmed with COVID-19? Will the entire school close for five days? [added 7/14]

TEA required actions if individuals with lab-confirmed cases have been in a school (as of July 7, 2020 update):

  • If an individual who has been in a school is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19, the school must notify its local health department, in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations, including confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). 

  • Schools must close off areas that are heavily used by the individual with the lab-confirmed case (student, teacher, or staff) until the non-porous surfaces in those areas can be disinfected, unless more than 3 days have already passed since that person was on campus. 

Consistent with school notification requirements for other communicable diseases, and consistent with legal confidentiality requirements, schools must notify all teachers and staff, as well as families of all students if a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participate in any on-campus activities. 

How will the district test its safety and hygiene protocols, and how frequently? [added 7/14]

Each campus will identify a lead COVID-19 person who is responsible for assuring safety and hygiene protocols are in place and observed.

How will social distancing be maintained on campuses? [added 7/14]

Social distancing protocols will be implemented in classrooms, during transitions, and in common areas, and will include the following:


  • Facial coverings

  • Six-feet social distancing, when possible

  • Plexiglass shields in high-traffic areas such as front offices and cafeteria serving lines

  • One-way hallways and stairwells, when possible


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 the areas mentioned above.

What happens if a student on campus is suspected of having COVID-19? [added 7/14]

Schools must immediately separate any student who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school until the student can be picked up by a parent or guardian. 

  • Each campus will have a designated isolation area for students presenting COVID-19 symptoms while on campus.

  • Schools should clean the areas used by the individual who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school (student, teacher, or staff) as soon as is feasible. 

  • Students who report feeling feverish should be given an immediate temperature check to determine if they are symptomatic for COVID-19.

Will students be changing classes? How will they stay socially distant during class changes? [added 7/14]

Yes. Students will be required to wear face coverings at all times during class changes. Where feasible, each campus will designate hallways and stairways to move in one direction only.