Frequently Asked Questions - This section is being updated often.
Below are answers to frequently asked questions our families, students and community members may have regarding Willis ISD’s plan to reopen schools for the 2020-21 school year.
Will students return to the classroom for in-person instruction in August?
On July 20, 2020 the Montgomery County Public Health District issued a letter of advisement to Montgomery County public school district Superintendents to postpone opening schools for in-class instruction until no earlier than September 8, 2020. Therefore, all Willis ISD students will participate in remote-only learning from home beginning August 12 through September 7. We will plan to reopen schools on Tuesday, Sept. 8, but will monitor the situation and provide updates the week of August 31. This learning is required for all students.
Once schools can reopen, you will still have two options for learning environment:
Option 1 - On-Campus Learning: Students and teachers will attend class in-person, five days a week, while following public health guidance and safety measures from state, federal, and local health entities.
Option 2 - Remote Learning: Even if schools open for on-campus learning, families have the option to select Remote Learning if they do not feel comfortable with the on-campus environment. Remote Learning will be a more structured system than it was in the spring, with instruction by Willis ISD teachers. Daily student participation will be required to verify attendance. Instructional modules are currently being developed by WISD teachers. Students will receive grades on assignments and assessments. The online school will be our teachers, in recorded videos, or they might use other videos to present the concept. The lessons are being custom created now for the online learning to be the same as in person learning. The only difference would be at home they can do it at their pace. However, elementary schools will provide a suggested daily schedule for you to follow.
Will the lessons be "live"? Do we have to log in at set times?
Willis ISD will follow a Blended Learning model (asynchronous model) of remote learning, so students will not be required to log in at set times during the day. The video lessons and assignments will be available to complete at your convenience. For attendance purposes, teachers will have to verify student progress on a daily basis. That could be shown through the student being logged in (which Canvas will show us), it could be turning in an assignment, or it could be a zoom call or one on one tutoring session that the teacher and you schedule. Sometimes it might even be just a phone call with the teacher if that is all that can be anaged that day. Teachers and schools will need some verification that the student has worked and made progress that day.
PK - 2nd Grade - Students will receive a learning schedule that will allow for teacher-led instruction, independent work, and teacher-led learning opportunities. Families should anticipate grade-level appropriate work that includes daily teacher interaction.
3rd - 12th Grade - Students will follow a schedule similar to on-campus learning and should anticipate approximately 3-4 hours of daily work depending on grade and course type. This would also include daily teacher interaction.
*Anticipated School Closures: Due to any potential health issues, or state regulations, students may move from the On-Campus Learning experience to Remote Learning for a period of time as needed due to student/staff illness or county or state regulations.
Where will students eat lunch?
Students will still eat breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria, but students will be spaced further apart as allowed by the number of students in attendance, size of cafeteria, etc.
STUDENT HEALTH DURING THE PANDEMIC
Note: Willis ISD will follow the Public Health Planning Guidance provided by the Texas Education Agency, first released July 17, 2020, and updated August 4, 2020. You can access the full document HERE.
Will students and staff be required to wear masks?
On July 2, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA 29, relating to the use of face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Governor Abbott’s current guidelines, every person 10 years of age or older is required to wear a face covering while inside a public building whenever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distance from another person not in the same household, with limited exceptions. Schools are required to comply with the governor’s executive order regarding the wearing of face coverings for whom it is developmentally appropriate. Students will be responsible for providing their own face coverings. All students regardless of age will be required to wear a mask at school. Please refer to the TEA Public Health Planning Guidance linked above under "Student Health During the Pandemic." Face masks cannot be worn alone - they must be worn in conjunction with a mask.
I wear a mask because (English)
I wear a mask because (en español)
How will the district ensure physical distancing takes place in school buildings?
While maintaining physical distancing will be a challenge, we are implementing a number of measures to ensure students remain at least six feet apart for as much of the school day as possible. Much of the ability to social distance will depend on how many students select On-Campus learning.
How will the district monitor students’ health?
- Students and staff are expected to take their own temperatures daily before arriving at school. Anyone with a fever of 100 or higher should not come to school or a Willis ISD facility.
- Students and staff should also prescreen themselves for any of the following symptoms prior to coming to school:
- Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- Loss of taste or smell
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Shaking or exaggerated shivering
- Significant muscle pain or ache
- Students and staff will be required to report to Willis ISD if a) they have come into close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19;
or b) they themselves have COVID-19 symptoms.
How will students enter school?
- Students arriving at school will spread out in larger common spaces (pre-designated by the campus, like the gym, library and cafeteria) until the bell rings to report to class.
- Bus riders will be taught to space themselves out from others as they exit the bus and walk into the school building and are required to wear a mask while on the bus and entering the building.
- Parents are encouraged to drop their child off at school or walk with their child to/from school to reduce possible virus exposure.
- Students will be encouraged to use hand sanitizer or wash hands immediately upon entering the building.
I am not yet comfortable sending my child to school. Can I have them continue with remote learning only this school year?
Yes. Although we hope to welcome our students back into our buildings, we will also offer a remote-only learning option for families who do not yet feel comfortable having their students return to school.
How will the school nurses handle potential Covid-19 cases?
- Registered Nurses, substitute nurses, aides and clinic relief staff will be trained in COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Minor health needs may be handled in the school front office area to reserve the health clinic space for students experiencing symptoms or fever, if deemed necessary when separation and proper social distancing cannot be maintained.
- Attendance clerks will be trained to ask questions to screen students/staff who are absent for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Students above age two years old who come to the school health clinic showing symptoms will be required to put on a face covering/mask (unless contraindicated by the nurse) until their parent arrives to take them home, per the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Texas Education Agency. All students being sent home ill will need to be picked up within one hour.
- School Health Clinics will be cleaned and disinfected regularly according to CDC guidelines.
Note: Nebulizers and inhalers without a chamber cannot be administered in school until further notice. Speak with your child’s pediatrician to obtain the proper equipment and update the child’s Asthma Action Plan.
Individuals Confirmed, Suspected or Exposed to COVID-19
Any individual - including teachers, staff, students or other campus visitors/volunteers - who themselves either a) are lab-confirmed to have COVID-19 or b) experience symptoms of COVID-19 must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to the campus until the school system screens the individual to determine any of the below conditions for campus re-entry have been met:
In the case of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return to school when all three of the following criteria are met:
1) at least one day (24hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications).
2) the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath); and
3) at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
In the case of an individual who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and who is not evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, such individual is assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to the campus until the individual has completed the same three-step set of criteria listed above.
If the individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to school before completing the above stay-at-home period, the individual must either a) obtain a medical professional's note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis or b) negative result on a COVID-19 acute infection test at an approved COVID-19 testing location found at https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/.
Individuals - including students, teachers, staff or other campus visitors/volunteers - who have had close contact with someone who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19, as narrowly defined in this document and as determined by the appropriate public health agency, should follow the guidelines below (updated Dec. 2, 2020).
As of December 2, 2020, the CDC has amended their guidance to allow two shorter options for the quarantine (stay at home) period after a close contact with a COVID positive person. Based on new CDC guidance, as well as guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the stay at home period can end for individuals experiencing no symptoms as described below.
10 Day Quarantine (No Symptoms): A student who is exposed to a COVID positive person will only quarantine for 10 days after the last day of exposure. For the purposes of quarantining out of school, this student will be allowed to return to school after 10 days if there have been no symptoms. A school nurse or school administrator must approve the return to school date. Students should continue to monitor themselves for any symptoms through day 14.
7 Day Quarantine (No Symptoms; Negative Test Day 5-7)
A close contact quarantine period can shorten even further to 7 days if they have not experienced any symptoms, and show proof of a negative test result (administered at least 5 days after the last close contact-day 5, 6 or 7 after exposure), so long as they continue to monitor themselves daily for symptoms and take appropriate precautions through day 14. A school nurse or school administrator must approve the return to school date, once proper documentation is received.
10 Day Quarantine with Symptoms
A student who is quarantined due to exposure to a COVID positive person that then becomes symptomatic will have their quarantine period updated to ten days from the onset of their symptoms. The school nurse will tell you the specific date your child may return to school.
What should I do if my child starts to exhibit flu-like symptoms?
Parents of students exhibiting flu-like symptoms are asked to contact your child's doctor. Any individual experiencing coronavirus symptoms will NOT be allowed to come to school.
Will the district close schools if a certain number of students or staff report illnesses?
Yes, the district is preparing for situations in which school buildings may need to close due to a significant number of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19. We are also planning for the need to close buildings if there is a considerable increase in COVID-19 cases in our state or region.
What are the district’s plans for transitioning back to remote learning if schools need to be closed again in the future?
If extended school closures become necessary during the school year, the district will be ready to seamlessly transition to remote learning. While we recognize that the transition last spring was not perfect, we learned a great deal about how to improve the process in the future. Our administrators, teachers and staff continue to make great progress in planning for this scenario.
CLEANING OF FACILITIES
- Require the use of masks in accordance with executive orders
- Daily deep sanitization of campuses and buses, especially high touch areas
- Hand sanitizer stations
- Signage encouraging social distancing
- Regular hand washing procedures
- Mandatory training for all staff on coronavirus preventative strategies
- Mandatory training for students on proper hygiene practices
- Pre-plated lunches which will likely include lunches in the classroom or outside weather permitting.
- Campuses will consider implementing practices, as needed, to limit the likelihood of students in close contact by staggering schedules and avoiding congregating in the hallways.
What about indoor air quality and air filtration/HVAC systems?
Willis ISD Maintenance employees change air filters in all buildings on a regular schedule. This could be as often as every month or every four months, and is based on the age of the building and the HVAC system. Water pans are cleaned regularly to prevent mold and other buildup. All buildings have a required amount of outside air being brought into the building to ensure the best air quality for students and staff.
STUDENT REGISTRATION, LUNCH ACCOUNTS
How do I register a student for Pre-K or who will be entering Willis schools for the first time?
Click HERE to access the Registration page and instructions for registering students NEW to Willis.
My child's lunch account has a positive balance. What will happen to this money?
Any money left in a child's school lunch account (SchoolCafe) will remain in the account for the 2020-2021 school year beginning in August. If you have a graduating student and would like to transfer money to another child's account, or need a refund of the money currently in the account, you can make those requests using the form linked HERE.
Will school buses still be in operation?
*Social distancing on buses will be determined on the number of students selecting to ride the bus. If your child rode the bus last year, but you are able to take them this year, please do not select bus rider on the survey of July 14.
Parents will indicate bus rider needs on the survey that will be sent out by each campus July 14, 2020. Once we have ridership numbers, the transportation department will re-work bus routes and announce that information prior to the start of school.
SPECIALS, ELECTIVES, ATHLETICS
Will there be physical education (PE), recess, computer, library and music classes in elementary school?
We know how important exercise and the arts are to our students. Yes, we will hold specials classes including PE, computer, library, music and of course - recess! All efforts will be made to ensure physical distancing takes place during these classes. Physical education instructors will engage students in no-contact sports and activities, while avoiding activities in which students need to be close together.
Will students be able to participate in athletics and extracurricular activities at the secondary level?
At this time, we plan to offer athletics and extracurricular activities in the fall semester. However, activities, practices, and schedules may need to be modified to ensure students remain physically distanced and can maintain proper hygiene. Each activity will look a little different, and coaches and advisors will be able to provide you and your students with more information as we get closer to the start of school.
It remains possible that some or all of our athletic seasons may be restricted or shortened. This will depend largely on decisions made by the Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL). and the status of COVID-19 in our state and region at that time.
TECHNOLOGY FOR REMOTE LEARNING
Will all students be able to check out a device (such as a Chromebook or laptop)
Devices are available for all students. Please check with the campus.
Can the district assist with Internet access?
Devices are on backorder and parents will be notified when one becomes available.
The district has ordered mobile wifi devices for parents who meet certain qualifications and do not have viable internet service at home.
My chromebook is broken or not functioning properly.
Please contact the campus if your chromebook becomes damaged or isn't working properly. Please do not make or coordinate repairs to devices on your own. All assigned technology devices are property of Willis ISD and will be maintained and repaired according to our local policies and vendor specifications. Any use of unauthorized parts or repairs not certified by the vendor will void the manufacturer warranty.
SPECIAL PROGRAMS/SERVICES, SPECIAL EDUCATION
How will a student in a special education program receive services?
Students who receive special education support will have a case manager teacher who will reach out to you and your student to assist with accommodations. All accommodations are still in effect if you choose remote learning. Students who normally receive speech, PT, OT and like services will be contacted by a case manager to schedule an appointment at the campus for that service.
My child has sensory needs, how will WISD be thoughtful about those needs?
WISD will be sensitive to a student’s sensory needs when using PPE, visual supports, and boundaries to assist with social distancing, use of social narratives, and video modeling to teach new hygiene routines such as more frequent hand washing.
It is required that students wear masks in the classrooms, common areas, and on WISD transportation. While many students may prefer not to wear a mask due to general discomfort, this expectation will be enforced consistent with the guidance of health authorities to protect the health of students, staff, and our community. Some students with sensory needs may present unique challenges and WISD is considering options such as face shields, social stories, and behavioral interventions such as recurring, frequent verbal and other reinforcement to promote tolerance.
Will my child receive compensatory services for services missed during school closure?
If your child did not receive a service in their IEP, the district is required to consider compensatory services. Teachers and staff will begin collecting data as soon as school starts. If a student does not meet the goals in their current IEP due to their participation in remote learning or due to the disruption during spring 2020, an ARD committee meeting will be scheduled.
The ARD committee will review progress and determine whether compensatory services may be needed to address any lack of anticipated progress toward those IEP goals.