MCISD to begin semester Aug. 20

Posted 8/11/20

Madisonville CISD announced it would push back its starting date for the 2020 fall semester to Aug. 20 at a special meeting of the board Thursday. The new year was originally scheduled to begin Aug. 13.

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MCISD to begin semester Aug. 20

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Madisonville CISD announced it would push back its starting date for the 2020 fall semester to Aug. 20 at a special meeting of the board Thursday. The new year was originally scheduled to begin Aug. 13.

“Teachers asked for more time to prepare for online learning and parents wanted more time to decide what was the best choice for their child,” said Superintendent Keith Smith, referencing the parental decision to send their child to campus for traditional, in-person instruction or asynchronous online learning.

(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.)

At Monday’s regularly scheduled board meeting, MCISD presented their lengthy re-entry plan for the fall semester, which can now be accessed on the district’s website.

“The conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic are continually evolving, and Madisonville CISD’s Safe Return-to-School plans will be constantly evaluated to adapt to the continuing trends of the virus, especially in the City of Madisonville and Madison County,” states the document. “Please know that MCISD will follow recommendations for school opening and operation from the Center for Disease Control, as well as state and local health officials. Circumstances related to COVID-19 may change throughout the coming school year, and this document will be updated as conditions change.”

Smith reiterated to the board Monday the fluidity of the situation and the constant changes that are already taking place in regards to procedures on a daily basis.

“It is difficult because the document that we present tonight could be different by Wednesday,” said Smith. “The changes are coming that fast. This is going to be an ever-changing document. It is a good guide for parents to go through and see our procedures and how we’ll be operating. It has flow charts for when a kid tests positive, a teacher tests positive, when someone is exposed, and it tells you how to react.”

The 23-page document, which took MCISD over two weeks to compile, can be accessed on the district’s website.

The MCISD board also signed a letter that will be sent to multiple state politicians requesting them to suspend the state’s accountability ratings and grade promotion requirements related to the 2020-21 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) and End of Course (EOC) exams in light of the current situation.

The letter was signed by all members of the school board and will be sent to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, State Representative Trent Ashby, Senator Charles Schwertner, Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Chairman Dan Huberty and Chairman Larry Taylor.

“Our district is not opposed to the accountability system,” stated the letter. “We believe that the STAAR/EOC is a useful diagnostic tool for our students and staff and is an important metric in our decision-making process. However, we think it does a disservice to our students, staff, and our community to base so much of our accountability ratings on these exams in a time when our students are in a state of such flux, and are unsure of their ability to come to school, much less perform well on exams.”

The letter went on to recognize the district’s high number of socioeconomic students (74%) eligible for free and reduced lunch, stating these factors will have a disparate impact on the ability of the district’s students to perform well on said exams during the current climate and economic turmoil.

“As a result, the ratings captured by any standardized examinations will not a be fair, or accurate, portrait of the capabilities of our students,” stated the letter.

MCISD received an ‘A’ accountability rating in 2019.

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