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July 15, 2020

GISD Superintendent Report

The first day of school is right around the corner. This year, educators across Texas are faced with a unique challenge. How do we safely bring students and staff back to our campuses in the middle of a public health crisis? Last March, Governor Abbott closed all Texas schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, forcing teachers, students, and parents to adjust quickly to a virtual curriculum to finish out the school year. Until now, schools have been in limbo waiting on guidance to reopen. However, last week the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released preliminary guidance to all Texas school districts related to in-person instruction. 

We hoped that conditions would improve over the summer, but they have steadily worsened across Texas. However, even in the middle of this crisis, teachers and administrators are working diligently to prepare for the new school year. This continues to be a rapidly changing situation, and the possibility exists that new regulations from TEA or the governor could change our plans at any moment. 

As of now, all Texas public school districts are required to offer both virtual and in-person instruction for the 2020-21 school year. This is a TEA mandate and not a local decision. As such, Granbury ISD will ask parents to choose which option they prefer when they register this year. There are ways families can help our district. Truthfully, if you have the ability to stay home and learn through virtual instruction, we encourage it. Fewer students on campus will allow for smaller classes and help mitigate risk. Students who choose virtual learning can still participate in extracurricular activities or hands-on labs in science classes and/or CTE with a hybrid model of instruction. 

While we understand it is not possible to eliminate all the risk related to spreading COVID-19, our goal is to take intentional steps to minimize the spread of the virus. Specifically, we plan to communicate our plan for safely reopening schools to parents and the community later this month. Our “Roadmap for Reopening” will include a plan for on-campus activities and instruction as well as detailed information on how attendance and enrollment will be counted this year.

Next, we plan to take strategic steps as we attempt to prevent the virus from entering our schools. This includes testing our entire staff for COVID-19 before the school year begins. Our goal is not only to protect our staff but also to give parents confidence that we are taking this situation seriously. More importantly, we will put systems in place to monitor students and staff, clean and sanitize our buildings regularly, and immediately separate students who exhibit symptoms of the virus. 

Should a student or staff member test positive for COVID-19, the district will immediately notify all staff and families on the campus. Our goal is to be as transparent as possible. We continue to have a strong working partnership with Hood County Public Health Authority Dr. David Blocker and Emergency Management Coordinator Captain Jay Webster. They both have provided strong leadership and guidance to our community. 

Finally, Granbury ISD will take steps to mitigate the likelihood of COVID-19 in our school by practicing social distancing, teaching proper health and hygiene, cleaning our building more frequently, and following guidance from the CDC, State of Texas, and our local health officials. 

COVID-19 is a major disruption. Ultimately, Granbury ISD like schools across the country finds itself in challenging times. However, we are blessed with great teachers, a great staff, and terrific students. Our Board of Trustees is dedicated to providing all students with a rigorous, robust education in order to maximize learning opportunities, while simultaneously looking out for the health and welfare of all our stakeholders. We cannot allow this public health crisis to become a generational crisis. We know this is not an easy task, but our district is dedicated to working with our city and county leaders to ensure we are successful in this mission.