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 

Reopening School Instructional Guidebook

The 2020-21 Reopening School Instructional Guidebook is a valuable resource which contains details about learning models, training, procedures, safety requirements and more. 

Restarting school transition: remote for first four weeks

For the first four weeks, from August 10 to September 7, all students will attend school remotely, get to know their new teachers, readjust to “school hours”, and learn to use a program called Canvas

There will be no option for face-to-face learning during this time. 

Families who select face-to-face learning will begin attending class on campus on Tuesday, September 8, 2020.

Two learning options for students - which is right for you?

Garland ISD families will be required to select from two options that will begin after the four-week remote start. You will have the opportunity to choose the best option for each student.

On Monday, July 13, all primary guardians received an email that contains a commitment form to select the learning option that you feel is best for your child(ren). GISD will offer both face-to-face and remote learning on September 8 after our four-week remote start.

All families must choose between the two options below and complete their commitment form by July 23.

 Please take time to carefully consider your options and what is best for your family. 

  • Face-to-FaceFace-to-face learning is a “traditional” school model, where students physically attend school daily on campus. Visit our Face-to-Face School page for more information.
  • RemoteRemote learning provides virtual lessons with teachers and classmates, as well as self-paced activities, projects, and assignments. Daily attendance will be taken and students will have a full course-load of instruction and assignments. It will look very different from our at-home learning this spring. Visit our Remote School page for more information

Grading and reporting

Grades will be taken during the return to school transition period and throughout the 2020-21 school year. They will count toward student GPAs for high school credit bearing courses. The grading system, grading scale, and number of required assignments will be consistent whether students are learning face-to-face or remotely. Students will move to four nine-week grading periods and will continue to receive progress reports every three weeks, with report cards being sent at the end of each nine-week grading period.

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

First four weeks of school

Can you explain the Canvas login process for students at each level? [added 8/3]

Students may access Canvas on a computer or laptop through Ready Hub and on a tablet or smartphone via the Canvas App.

What is Canvas? Does it replace Google Classroom? [added 8/3]

The Texas Education Agency has asked school districts to introduce a learning management system this school year, and GISD has chosen Canvas. Canvas is a unified platform that helps students navigate all of their learning from one location. Assignments, grades, secure links to Google Classroom and Google Meets for live class sessions, and communication with teachers and classmates will all be accessed from the Canvas homepage after logging in.

When will students learn to use Canvas? [added 8/3]

During the first few days of school, teachers will guide students through the process of accessing and navigating Canvas courses. There are also helpful student and family resources located in our Families for Canvas page.

How will attendance be taken? [added 8/3]

Attendance will be taken in every class, every day. If a student attends a ‘live’, synchronous remote class, attendance will be taken just as it would be if the student was face-to-face. The teacher will call roll and students who are participating in the class will be counted present. If a student attends class asynchronously, they will have to show evidence of their daily progress by meeting one of the requirements listed below.

GISD Teacher Guidelines To Document Evidence Of Daily Progress

The student submits daily evidence of learning through the Learning Management System. Evidence can include: 

  • Submitting assignments
  • Discussion board participation
  • Written reflection 
  • Completing a quiz or form


The student attends scheduled support with their teacher including: 

  • Tutorials
  • Intervention/Remediation 
  • Small group instruction
How will students be marked “present” each day if they are doing asynchronous learning? [added 8/3]

TEA requires that students engage daily in order to be counted present, so all 3rd-12th grade students who miss live lessons must view the missed lessons asynchronously as “make-up” work. This will allow families who need to log in after traditional school hours to complete the work and still be counted present. While you will be able to log in to the lesson at a later time, you must complete the assigned activities within the same day to be marked present for the day of instruction. However, it is important to engage in live lessons with the teacher as much as possible to ensure that student learning needs are being met.

If students miss a day are they marked absent if they make up the time and the work? [added 8/3]

They must make up the work on the same day it was given to be marked present for the day. For instance, if the student missed live instruction at 10:00 am on Monday but was able to watch the lessons and show evidence of daily progress by 11:59 on Monday night, the student would receive credit for their attendance on Monday. If the student waits until later in the week to complete the assignments, they will receive credit for the assignment they completed but will be marked absent from the class.

What are the accommodations for working families if parents cannot supervise their students to log on at a specific time or if students must attend daycare, or students forget to log on? [added 8/3]

We encourage our families to communicate specific schedule concerns directly to their child’s teacher/campus administrator. We understand that conflicts do come up, and we will partner with you to make sure your child receives the necessary instruction. GISD is working to form partnerships with local daycare providers to collaborate with them and support their efforts to supervise remote learning for the students they are serving.

TEA requires that students engage daily in order to be counted present, so all 3rd-12th grade students who miss live lessons must view the missed lessons asynchronously as “make-up” work. This will allow families who need to log in after traditional school hours to complete the work and still be counted present. However, it is important to engage in live lessons with the teacher as much as possible to ensure that student learning needs are being met. 

What time are students expected to log on at each level? [added 8/3]

3rd-12th grade students are expected to attend remote learning according to their school schedule, which will be available in Canvas on August 7. 3rd-12th grade students should be logged into Canvas by the start of the transitional school day. 

Elementary: 8:10
Middle:  8:50
High School:  8:40

PreK-2nd grade students will have identified times to meet live with their teacher, but the majority of their learning will happen asynchronously. The schedule for live meetings will be shared by each student’s teacher.  

Campuses and teachers will be communicating schedules that are specific to their campus and class based on individual student needs.  These schedules will include synchronous opportunities and recommended structure for asynchronous learning.  

What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning? [added 8/3]

Synchronous learning is “live” instruction. Students and teachers are logged on together at the same time. Asynchronous learning is not live. Students access pre-recorded lessons and independently complete assignments each day. All PreK-2 students will participate in asynchronous learning, but will have identified times for live support from their teacher.

What are high school students doing between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m.? Are they expected to log on daily at 7:30 a.m. even if they don’t have a class then? [added 8/3]

There are a variety of opportunities for students to receive extra, individualized support during that time. As outlined in the transitional schedule, all subject areas offer extra support on specific days. During the transitional schedule, students are not expected to log on until the start of their first class (8:40 a.m.) unless they want extra support or have been told by their teacher they must log on due to gaps in their learning. 

Campuses will give specific communication to their students about these processes. This early time may also be used by some sports and/or fine arts programs for students to participate virtually, especially to avoid the heat. Some high school students may be monitoring younger school-age siblings, and this gives them the opportunity to assist their siblings before the high school day starts.

Can you explain what the PreK-2 schedule will look like for students, since it is asynchronous learning? Is the published schedule a recommendation for families? [added 8/3]

All PreK-2 students will participate in asynchronous learning, but will have identified times for live support from their teacher. These scheduled times could vary from the sample based on individual teacher/campus schedules. Students will access pre-recorded lessons and independently complete assignments each day. The published schedule is a sample of how a student’s day could be structured during remote learning.

What do students do during the time on the schedule that says “PLC”? [added 8/3]

PLCs are dedicated planning and professional development times for teachers. Students will be working asynchronously during this time. This work will include independent practice/assignments that will allow them to show mastery of material taught during live instruction with their teacher, as well as progress monitoring through online programs/activities.

What do students do in the afternoons? Will students not log on in the afternoons for the first month? [added 8/3]

Students in grades 3-8 will be engaged in synchronous intervention sessions as well as  asynchronous learning activities in the afternoons.  They will log on through Canvas to access their learning assignments.  

For elementary 3-5 , students who have scheduled synchronous instruction in the morning would then be able to complete work asynchronously in the afternoon.  Students who have synchronous instruction in the afternoon could complete work asynchronously in the morning.

Students in grades 9-12 will be engaged in learning based on their campus schedule.  Classes will occur until the 2:50 “dismissal” time.

How does the A/B schedule work for middle school? [added 8/3]

Middle school students will follow the same A/B schedule as our high school students.  Students will attend A-day classes on Mondays and Wednesdays and B-day classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays will alternate between A-day and B-day classes.






A day

B day

A day

B day

A day

A day

B day

A day

B day

B day

A day

B day

A day 

B day

A day

A day

B day

A day

B day

B day

What do the SEL, PLC, VAPA acronyms mean? [added 8/3]

SEL stands for Social Emotional Learning. This time will be used to build social and emotional skills that will last a lifetime. 

PLC stands for Professional Learning Community. This is time for teachers to plan and to learn together.

VAPA stands for Visual and Performing Arts, which is another name for fine arts.

Will students need to have a webcam and headphones with a microphone? [added 8/3]

Students will need a webcam and a microphone. The great news is that if students do not have these already, GISD can issue them a device that has both a camera and a microphone built in. Headphones with a microphone are a great idea for families with more than one student. Those would be an optional purchase for families, if they make that choice.

When will we be issued hotspots and devices? [added 8/3]

High school distribution began July 30, and distribution continues at all levels this week. If your child needs a device or a hotspot, please contact your campus. Hotspots are assigned to specific students by the internet provider and are only available at your home campus.


Once we have chosen either face-to-face or remote learning, can we change our mind and choose the other type?

Yes, you may move between the two learning models.  Because this change will also result in your child being assigned to new teachers, changes can only be made at the end of each 9-week grading cycle.

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

Those decisions will be determined based on medical certifications/documentation from employees’ physicians. Staff assigned to lead remote learning will be assigned to a Garland ISD facility to conduct instruction, with no students physically in their classrooms. This will afford them full access to Garland ISD technology, internet, instructional materials, training, collaboration, and support. All other staff will report to their assigned campus location each day. 

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.

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.

Will GISD require daily screenings of students, staff and visitors?

Each student, staff, and visitor will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival on campus by a trained staff member.

What local medical experts are we using as advisors since we do not have a hospital in Garland? [added 7/14]

Our Director of Health Services, Renee Kotsopoulos, works closely with the Dallas County health department regarding COVID-19 within our community. GISD also is following public health guidance provided by the Texas Education Agency. The most recent TEA guidance can be found here.

Are our reopening guidelines dictated from TEA and the Governor? Does the district have a COVID-19 tolerance/data number that will cause a change in direction? [added 7/14]

GISD is complying with the public health guidance provided by TEA, as well as all executive orders in place, such as Executive Order GA-29 and the Governor's Strike Force to Open Texas.  When orders are issued within Dallas County, we also comply with those regulations.  Those regulations are subject to frequent change, so our team closely monitors all updates.  Any change in direction would be the result of updated state or local orders.

How are the families without access to our website receiving the latest information on reopening school, choosing their learning platform, and the 3-week transition period? [added 7/14]

In addition to email, a callout was sent to all families, and a postcard is being mailed to our families who did not have a valid email address in Skyward. We communicated via our traditional social media platforms as well. In addition, principals are encouraged to communicate the information through their campus communication channels. Finally, all campuses will be personally calling all families who have not made a selection for remote or face-to-face learning.

Will the district receive funding for Average Daily Attendance (ADA) during the first three weeks? [added 7/14]

Yes. Attendance will be taken daily for all students, beginning the first day of school.  We will receive ADA funding for all students who are counted as present and engaged in instruction daily, based on TEA attendance documentation requirements.

Is the 4-week transition period for training on new platforms and new software? [added 7/14]

TEA has specified that during the first three weeks of school, to facilitate an effective back-to-school transition process, school systems may temporarily limit access to on-campus instruction. This remote start will allow campuses to rehearse and finalize all safety and sanitation protocols to significantly reduce the risk of viral spread on campus. Families and students will have access to on-demand training modules to introduce them to the Canvas learning platform. During the first few days/weeks of school, students and teachers will spend significant time navigating the platform together to ensure that students know how to access material, submit work and show engagement in their learning.  District departments will offer ongoing family and student support to answer questions and troubleshoot Canvas issues. 

What procedures should a student or staff member follow if they test positive? [added 7/14]

Any individuals who themselves either: (a) are lab-confirmed to have COVID-19; or (b) experience the symptoms of COVID-19 must stay at home throughout the infection period.

  • Those diagnosed with COVID-19 or who experience the symptoms of COVID-19 may not return to school or work until screened by the school system and cleared by medical staff.

  • In the case of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return to school or work when all three of the following criteria are met: 

    • at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications); 

    • the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and 

    • at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared. 

If an individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 but is not evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, they are assumed to have COVID-19 and may not return to school or work until they meet the same three criteria listed above. 

If an individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to school or work before completing the steps above, they must either: 

    • obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis; or 

    • receive two separate confirmations at least 24 hours apart that they are free of COVID-19 via acute infection tests at an approved COVID-19 testing location found at https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/

Will UIL activities/programs be safe? [added 7/14]

We have thorough protocols in place for all UIL activities.  These meet or exceed the requirements established by the UIL and are in compliance with all executive orders, including Executive Order GA-29. GISD is committed to making our activities and programs as safe as we possibly can. Please reference detailed information on UIL Athletics Guidance and UIL Music Guidance.

Will we seek any input from parents and students regarding their concerns and fears before the start of school? [added 7/14]

Each campus will offer a virtual parent forum, where parents can ask questions and share their concerns. Staff will also be afforded the same opportunity. Student input from middle and high school students will be solicited through similar platforms as well.

When will we have a school supply list? Will the students participating in remote learning have a different list? [added 7/14]

Each campus makes their own school supply list, which will be the same for both face-to-face and remote learners. Families will need to purchase typical school supplies whether their students are attending face-to-face or remotely.  2020-2021 school supply lists are posted on each campus website.