Rockwall ISD Board approves academic policies in light of COVID-19

ROCKWALL, TX – August 4, 2020 — The Rockwall ISD Board of Trustees approved amending policy EIC (LOCAL) and the 2020-2021 Grading Guidelines to reflect the changes. As a result of the current pandemic’s impact for remote learning, Chief Curriculum & Instruction Officer Dr. Amy Ellis presented a resolution for EIC (LOCAL) clarifying grades earned by students participating in a high school credit course through remote instruction offered during the 2020-2021 school year shall be included in the calculation of class rank and GPA. This clarification of policy aligns with the Texas Education Agency guidance on remote learning requirements that grading policies for remote students must be consistent with those used before COVID-19 for in-person students.

The Board also approved a recommendation by Ellis to amend EIC (LOCAL) to change the date when current policy EIC(LOCAL) reflects that for the purpose of determining honors to be conferred during graduation activities, the district shall calculate class rank by using grades available at the time of calculation at the end of the spring semester of the senior year. The proposed recommendation would change the date when the district calculates class rank to at the end of the third nine-week grading period of the senior year per the recommendation of Texas Association of School Boards.

The Board approved the 2020-2021 Grading Guidelines, which included the suspension of semester/final exams for the current school year in light of the unpredictable impact intermittent closures and public health changes could have on instruction. The Board also tabled a recommendation by Dr. Ellis to change policy EIAA(LOCAL) to an administrative procedure. The Trustees asked to revisit the agenda item at a future Board meeting.

Additional student technology purchases

Senior Chief Financial Officer David Carter presented an update regarding student technology needs. As part of the school registration process currently underway through Skyward, parents indicate the need for student technology. An additional 2,500 students need Chromebooks for the coming school year, which is in addition to the 2,700 Chromebooks currently in use by students at home as a result of the emergency closure last Spring. Currently, campuses have approximately 2,000 Chromebooks that are available for distribution to students and still maintain the current ratio of Chromebooks on campuses for students to use. The Board approved the request of $680,000 for the purchase of additional Chromebooks and setup services.

In addition to Chromebooks, approximately 600 families also indicated the need for hot spots for internet access. The district has 70 hot spots available to issue to families and is submitting 350 hot spots from Operation Connectivity. The Board of Trustees approved the request to purchase 350 hot spots with mobile internet service at the cost of $107,807.

Purchase of elementary individualized hands-on instructional materials

The Board approved the recommendation by Dr. Mary Johnston, Chief Academic Officer for Elementary Schools, to purchase individualized hands-on instructional materials for 8,400 elementary students. The purchase enables teachers and students to maintain the instructional environment with common, familiar supports. This purchase ensures students, learning in-person or remotely, continue a high level of hands-on instruction. The purchase of the materials, a $165,000 expenditure, allows instructional opportunities to look familiar to the elementary students.

Submitted press release by Rockwall ISD. Edited for publication in Blue Ribbon News.

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