El PASO, Texas -- The start of the school year for the El Paso Independent School District is just a couple weeks away. EPISD on Tuesday hosting a pair of virtual community meetings to provide parents with information on its plans to reopen schools.
This upcoming semester starting Aug. 2 will be the first time since the pandemic that schools will reopen to full capacity. Some key changes officials said will occur this school year include:
- Virtual learning will not be an option - students must attend classes five days a week.
- Extracurricular activities will resume, including athletics, fine arts and UIL.
- Recess and physical education will also resume and cafeterias will reopen.
- Grade retention will be eliminated.
- Masks, social distancing, and temperature checks will no longer be required.
- The 10-day quarantine is no longer required for those with high-risk exposure who are fully vaccinated.
- EPISD will continue to sanitize each of its schools daily and contact tracing will continue.
During the meetings, the school district also discussed the measures it is taking to help students with learning loss during the pandemic. In particular, students who did not pass the STAAR test in the spring will be assigned a teacher to receive supplemental instruction.
EPISD Associate Superintendent Carla Gonzalez offered this explanation...
"Students who did not take or did not pass the STAAR test in 2021, meaning the spring, they will be required to do the following: They will have no less than 30 tutoring hours total during the summer, beginning really now in August, all the way through Summer 2022. What we will be going for is, we're trying for more than an hour per week, simply because 30 hours per subject, even though some of our students will be focusing on math and reading, some of them also had tests in social studies and science. So for some students that could be 120 supplemental hours."
Also atthe meetings, some parents asked if the district had a backup plan in place in the event Covid-19 case numbers rise because of the Delta variant.
"We do know there's variants out there, we do know there are still cases happening even now. But at this point all we've been given is the go-ahead to plan as usual and then if something should, I'm sure then we would respond the same way we did back in March 2020, the state would give us the guideline at that time," Gonzalez responded.
EPISD spokeswoman Melissa Martinez also told ABC-7 that El Paso County's high vaccination rate was giving the district "reassurance of the safety protocols in place."
Aside from the safety concerns, EPISD's main focus will be helping students and parents get acclimated to the new school year.
"We have some students who don't know their campus, don't know their way around the school," Martinez said. "So really, the first couple weeks of school are going to be spent addressing those needs."
Parents who have questions can contact EPISD by clicking here for contact information.