HPISD Prepares To Welcome Students Back To Campus

Highland Park ISD trustees met for the first time in the multi-use building on Douglas Avenue Tuesday to discuss how remote learning’s been going since school began Aug. 20 and safety precautions that will be taken when students return to campuses Sept. 8. 

Lisa Wilson, HPISD’s assistant superintendent for education services, said the Texas Education Agency allows districts to take attendance in a couple of ways – by whether or not a student is engaging with material remotely via Google Meet, Google Classroom, or students’ Seesaw accounts, whether or not those who chose in-person instruction are present in class when in-person instruction resumes. About 18% of students reportedly selected the remote option and about 82% selected the in-person option.

“We hosted several meet and greets before school got started and the first couple days of school,” Wilson said. “Five at a time, they were able to bring them in, introduce them to the classroom, and the teacher, and it was quite an exciting time.”

She said the emergency closure schedule, which the district began the year on, includes daily live and offline activities for students.

“It has increased engagement significantly from the spring closure,” Wilson said.

She said the district will also be delivering beginning-of-the-year Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) assessments to help provide data about any potential learning gaps from the spring. 

Officials also discussed safety precautions that will be taken when in-person instruction resumes. Those include face shields for teachers, hand sanitizer, Plexiglass partitions, hand sanitizing stations at the entrances to the campuses, installing MERV 13 air filters, lunchroom partitions, Plexiglass barriers in office spaces, and other measures.

Employees will also have to do daily screenings asking whether they’ve been in contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 or have symptoms.

Nurses in the district have also reportedly gone through the Johns Hopkins University contact tracing training. 

Notifications will be sent out via Constant Contact in the event of a positive COVID-19 case among employees, students, or visitors.

Among the biggest changes for the elementary campuses will be designated zones for student drop off and pick up, increased handwashing and social distancing, personal partitions, and seating charts, said Armstrong Elementary principal Betsy Cummins.

As we previously reported, Highland Park High School will utilize a hybrid model when in-person instruction resumes in which half of the students who chose in-person instruction would be on campus at one time each school day and would alternate days on campus.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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