11-19-20 CCAISD School Calendar Change

Hello to our students, parents, and staff at CCAISD. What a year! We do not get out very much here at school. This is certainly an interesting and difficult time for many of us; however, I am very humbled at the goodwill and willingness of our community to help each other. How do we move forward with a pandemic all around us?
As I have said before, COVID-19 does not define who we are. I choose to be happy and find joy in life. Our families, friends, and our belief in God is where we find our joy. We will discuss several things, but never fear. We are in control and fear is not. Live your life well. Take care of yourself and those around you. Let's start with the facts of our school.

It would be easy to think that because we quarantine students or staff and move the student body to remote learning, that COVID-19 is in our building. It is not. We move to quarantine and remote learning before an outbreak occurs. As of 11-24-20, there will be no one at school in quarantine. During this time of remote learning we will quarantine individuals as we become aware and the school will not be affected. We will be safe when school starts back live because of our actions now. And we will keep it safe while we are teaching live in the building.

That being said, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are here. It is the time of year for family, friends, celebration, and honoring our religious beliefs. Most of us attend worship services at our church. We are going to have contact with each other. Looking at the facts of COVID-19 spread in our community, we will most likely have another outbreak after Thanksgiving and then again after the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Here is where a change in the school calendar will help the students and staff be safe.

We are extending the remote learning to 12-4-20 (Friday). We will start back live on 12-7-20
(Monday). College classes, CTE classes, and extra-curricular can meet at school, as well as staff members not quarantined. If a student or staff member has COVID-19 or been directly exposed to someone who has COVID-19, or you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, then stay home. Call the school nurse and let her know. This extension gives any student or staff 10 days after Thanksgiving to know if they have COVID-19, been directly exposed to someone who has COVID-19, or has COVID-19 symptoms and not come into the building. We now have the ability to give a COVID-19 test to a student or staff member at school and get a result within 15 minutes. This will be a big help to those just having symptoms. They may not have to be quarantined. Those with covid or directly exposed to someone with covid will still be quarantined regardless of a negative test. Unfortunately, at this time we are only allowed to test students or staff of CCAISD.
We will teach live for 2 weeks and then Christmas break begins.  We are amending the school calendar to add another week to the Christmas and New Year's holiday break. Staff will report back on 1-11-21 (Monday) and students will report back on 1-12-21 (Tuesday). This will give staff 9 days and students 10 days after the holidays to know if they have COVI D-19 or are showing COVID-19 symptoms and not come into the building.
This will allow our students and staff to come into the building for live learning in the middle of January 2021. We do contract tracing and are finding that our students and staff are picking up COVID-19 mostly away from school. Out of all the cases, we have maybe 4 instances that possibly could have spread at school. Most likely only 1 of those instances occurred at school and it was with non teaching staff that did not affect students. The other 3 have more direct links to home and friends, but we watch closely for links to the school. Given that our Van Horn community runs about a 15% positivity rate and at our highest CCAISD students had a 2% rate, school is the safest place for our children. Health and safety is the very first thing we address at CCAISD. Second, we address the academic well being of our students.

We have been looking at how remote learning is working. It is not working well at all. In the first six weeks, we had a student failure rate of 35%. This includes both at school and remote students. Switching back and forth in remote and at school teaching is causing a breakdown in the learning process of all students. Here is what parents and teachers have been telling me. As teachers, we struggle with learning new technology, complying with TEA or State regulations concerning remote learning, how rigorous our lessons should be, how much do we assign, getting students to link in to the remote lessons which leads to attendance and passing difficulties, and getting some parents to require their children to link in. As parents, we struggle with getting linked in, understanding technology and software, some classes that lecture the whole period and then require an assignment after that period ends causing a doubling or tripling of the workload, making your children do their work, making your child get out of bed, your child being distracted while at home, trying to work a job and be the teacher at the same time, and some parents struggle to get out of bed on time themselves, while others are up and going before dawn.

We asked the teachers if they wanted remote learning/in person live learning or just in person learning at the school. All the teachers but one want their students back in their classroom. Next we will be asking parents and students how they feel. The first six weeks we had 65% of our students at school with 35% remote. The second six weeks we had 61 % at school with 39% remote. After listening to the teaching staff and the school board, we have decided to ask the parents and students their opinion on moving to live learning only, with only quarantined or IEP students receiving remote learning. We would require all students to return in person on 1-12-21, when we come back from the Christmas break. We will also be changing the 3rd six weeks to end two weeks after that return date. This will give students and teachers a chance to make up for the failing grades of the 3rd six weeks and possibly the first semester. We have several students at risk of failing for the year and not graduating to the next grade level, including some high school seniors. A senior must pass their classes to get enough credits, have attendance of 90% or more, and have passed enough of their EOC tests to graduate and walk the stage.
Be safe, be healthy, and be kind to someone today.