MCISD reveals return plan

Posted 7/14/20

The Madisonville CISD administration presented their lengthy plan to return to in-person instruction in the fall to the board at Monday’s monthly meeting for July. The extensive plan can now be accessed on the district’s website and was compiled based on the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) latest stipulations.

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MCISD reveals return plan

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The Madisonville CISD administration presented their lengthy plan to return to in-person instruction in the fall to the board at Monday’s monthly meeting for July. The extensive plan can now be accessed on the district’s website and was compiled based on the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) latest stipulations.

The plan was also based off of a local parent survey orchestrated by district officials that included nearly 900 parents, which Superintendent Keith Smith estimated ultimately equate to about 1,800 students. Roughly 40% of the responders expressed concerns over sending their children back for in-person instruction in the fall.

The state of Texas has mandated that all schools will open for in-person instruction, but many districts are also opting for other options to accommodate those who may not feel comfortable sending their students to class.

“(Mike Morath, Texas Commissioner of Education) said in-person instruction is the best model, and I agree with him on that,” said Smith. “However, we totally respect the parents’ rights. If they want to keep their children at home, we respect that and will support them in any way we can.”

The TEA offered two options in terms of online learning: synchronous and asynchronous. MCISD will provide the latter, which they say offers more flexibility in terms of internet access and limits the amount of time a student is required to sit in front of a computer screen.

A synchronous instruction plan would require all participants to be present virtually at the same time, essentially creating a classroom atmosphere in front of a computer screen. It would include live interactive classes with students and teachers participating in real time.

Asynchronous instruction does not require all participants to be present virtually at the same time. It would rather include self-paced online courses with intermittent teacher instruction, pre-assigned work with formative assessments on paper and watching pre-recorded videos of instruction with guided support.

“(Asynchronous) gives parents some flexibility,” said Smith. “The synchronous plan was not flexible enough. It required too much internet access and too much time for a child to sit in front of a computer.”

In either scenario, internet access is a major component for instruction away from campus.

“We were surprised at the amount of people who said they have reliable internet, but asynchronous instruction is not going to be the packet learning that we had in the spring. It will be much more time consuming and very difficult as we follow the TEA’s guidelines.”

Along with a parent survey, the MCISD administration held a parent roundtable last week to hear face-to-face concerns.

“Our parents have done a really good job, ever since we went out during the spring, of communicating with us and giving us feedback and input,” said Smith. “Some of it we cannot do. We cannot pay for internet at your house. But we can boost our internet and give you the opportunity to come up and get on it.”

MCISD officials are in the process of working with families to provide devices and enhance the district’s wifi signal to make it possible to access the internet from their cars.

As it stands now, parents will have the option to send their children to in-person instruction or to go the asynchronous route. If they choose the latter, they will be committed to it for a nine-week period.

The administration has worked tirelessly over the last week off newly received information from the TEA in order to compile their official return plan, which was published to the district website Tuesday.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Keith West was in charge of the process.

“(West) is extremely committed to the community, knows the community and our families really well,” said Smith. “He has been knee-deep in paperwork.”

Smith also addressed concerns over the state’s plan to release letter grades in regards to mandated STAR and EOC exams in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have spoken to our elected officials and asked that, at worst, we give the tests and let us use them as a diagnostic tool to assess how much learning was lost,” said Smith. “I find it frustrating that they would give a campus to district a letter grade knowing full well that some of those kids have not been in school for nine months.”

To view the district’s extensive plan for returning to campus in the fall, visit madisonvillecisd.org.

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