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Response to Health District’s Order

Big Red Community:

Thank you for your patience. We had hoped to be releasing our response plan to you today outlining details for the upcoming school year. However, as you may know, the Bell County Public Health District announced yesterday afternoon that schools are not to open for  face-to-face instruction until after September 7.

We know from surveys and feedback events hosted this week with parents and staff that returning to at-school learning is important for a majority of our community. Teachers noted a need for additional time for planning and preparation. Safety remains a concern for all. Taking this into account and the Health District’s order, Superintendent Matt Smith will present a recommendation to the Board of Trustees on Tuesday that Belton ISD moves the first day of school to September 8. 

Again, thank you for your patience as we work through the latest development and additional guidance. Families can expect to learn more next week as additional information and resources are added to www.bisd.net/responseplan.

Video Transcript

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Good afternoon, Big Red Community. My name is Matt Smith. I'm the Superintendent of schools here in Belton ISD and today, Friday the 24th of July, I'm coming to you with a brief update on where we are in planning for the upcoming school year. 

First, as many of you know last Wednesday, July the 15th, we kicked off our community input phase of the planning process. The first event was a workshop with our Board of Trustees, followed by surveys to our parents, live Zooms with ThoughtExchanges to community members and live Zooms with ThoughtExchanges to our staff members. During this time, we've had over 402 original thoughts from staff members, 616 original thoughts from community members and over 8,000 responses to our survey. 

Also during this time, just yesterday, the 23rd of July after 3 p.m., we got additional guidance from Bell County Health Authority that says we cannot open school for face-to-face instruction until after the 7th of September. Obviously that changed our planning process just a little bit and today I'm gonna talk to you a little bit about what comes next. 

First, based on the data that we heard from our families, 60 percent of our families so far have said that they want face-to-face instruction for kids. As a superintendent, I want face-to-face instruction for our kids too cause I know we can best serve them in our buildings and in our schools. Secondly, we heard loud and clear from our teachers that in a virtual setting, they feel like they need additional planning time and support. 

Based on these two things, that our community would really like to have face-to-face instruction for kids and that our teachers are needing additional time and support in a virtual environment and based on the guidance that we received from Bell County Health Authority, my recommendation to the school board is going to be to start school on Tuesday, the 8th of September instead of on August the 19th. This additional time will help us prepare and work with our staff members. It'll also help ensure that each and every student in Belton ISD has an exceptional experience no matter what on September the 8th. 

I appreciate your patience through this entire process. There's a lot of changing factors that happen along the way, but one thing that doesn't change is the support of our Big Red Community, and I'm entirely and utterly grateful for your support. Please know we will be in touch with you next week regarding next steps in regarding specific safety protocols that we've been planning for when we get back together face-to face. Have a wonderful Friday.

 

July 24, 2020