Rockwall ISD Board hears school start update at monthly meeting

Rockwall ISD Board hears school start update at monthly meeting

ROCKWALL, TX – August 18, 2020 — Superintendent Dr. John Villarreal and District Leadership Team members presented a School Start update to the Board of Trustees. Dr. Villarreal informed the Board of the recent back-to-school registration period where parents across the District selected in-person learning by 62 percent and remote learning by 38 percent. “This information allows campuses and the District to continue planning for a reasonably safe in-person start and appropriately staff for our remote learners,” said Dr. Villarreal.

Operations Update

Senior Chief Financial Officer David Carter presented information regarding operations to the Board of Trustees. He showed a video of bus transportation procedures, student technology distribution information, Child Nutrition plans for contactless in-person cafeteria modifications and the Grab-N-Go program for remote learners in need of meals. Locations for the remote learner Grab-N-Go meals include Rockwall-Heath and Rockwall High Schools; Cain, Williams, and Utley Middle Schools; and Cullins-Lake Pointe Elementary School.

Carter also presented the building modifications completed or currently underway, including health screening signage, plexiglass desk shields for teachers and students, plexiglass shields for the school reception area, social distancing markers, and the installation of contactless water bottle filler stations. In addition, the District is hiring an additional 22 custodians – one for each school campus – to assist with the enhanced cleaning procedures, which includes electrostatic misters.

Elementary Update

Dr. Mary Johnston, Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Schools, presented a video that reviewed the daily procedures for an elementary student attending in-person school. She also discussed the requirement for students in grades 4-6 to wear a mask or face covering as well as the face shields provided by the District for every student grades PreK-3. Johnston also discussed the plan for in-person and virtual Meet the Teacher opportunities at the elementary level.

The Board also heard the plan for remote learners. Dr. Johnston said, “With the help of our instructional coordinators and principals, we have a remote learning plan that will instruct more than 3,200 students with 130 dedicated remote learning teachers. The teachers will be in their classrooms at our campuses so they can access all the instructional materials and technology they need to provide excellence remotely. Parents will see the same high-level curriculum, while students learn remotely while engaged with teacher/s and other students in this new platform.” Parents of remote learners will soon begin to receive emails from their child’s teacher/s.

Secondary Update

Dr. Amy Ellis, Chief Curriculum & Instruction Officer, provided an update regarding secondary campuses. At the middle school level, she showed the video describing the middle school procedures for in-person learners. She also reviewed the staggered passing period bell schedule at the middle school level. Ellis announced the addition of three elective teachers at Cain Middle School to provide assistance to classroom enrollments at the largest middle school in the District.

Ellis also provided more details regarding the high school hybrid schedule developed by District and high school campus leadership. She explained how the student population at the high schools would be divided into two groups according to alpha last name and then rotate between in-person learning two days and remote learning for three days most weeks. Both groups would remotely learn on Wednesdays (see sample schedule below).

Safety & Security Update

Dr. Kelvin Stroy, Chief Student Services Officer, informed the Board members of the recent distribution of state PPE supplies to campuses. The original shipment from the state was not the entire allotment for Rockwall ISD. The District anticipates another shipment of supplies in the coming weeks.

Nichol Smithers, Director of Health Services, discussed the designation of a sick clinic at each campus for students or staff who may be exhibiting signs of COVID-19. The sick clinic is separate from the regular nursing clinic, where students are seen for routine health concerns.

Smithers also reiterated the COVID-19 notification process. Per the Texas Education Agency, notification of a positive COVID-19 case is sent to all parents and staff of a school of the affected campus. Should the number of cases warrant an intermittent closure, a notification will be sent to all District families and staff. The District is hiring two additional registered nurses to conduct contact tracing when a positive COVID-19 case is reported.

Resolution to Suspend Final Exam Exemptions Policy for the 2020-2021 School Year

The Board of Trustees approved a resolution suspending policy EIAA (LOCAL) for the 2020-2021 school year regarding midterm and semester exam exemptions for juniors and seniors. Due to COVID-19, Rockwall ISD has chosen not to administer semester or final exams for the 2020-2021 school year, as reflected in the Grading Guidelines.

Lowest Tax Rate in 29-Years Approved

The Board of Trustees approved a lower tax rate for the year 2020. The tax rate is 94¢ for Maintenance and Operations (funds ex: utilities, salaries, operations, etc.) and 37¢ for Interest and Sinking (funds ex: bond payments) for a total tax rate of $1.3100, representing a 12¢ decrease over the last two years.

Additional Elementary Restroom Projects Approved

The Board of Trustees approved a multi-campus capital improvement project to upgrade student restrooms at the following elementary campuses: Amy Parks-Heath, Cullins-Lake Pointe, Hartman, Jones, Nebbie Williams, Pullen, Rochell, and Springer. The total cost of the project is $3.2 million and will be paid for by the 2007 bond authorization.

Submitted press release from Rockwall ISD.

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