During a special meeting Monday night, the Argyle ISD School Board unanimously approved keeping the district’s current plans to open schools on Aug. 17, despite local health officials recommendations to delay.
Denton County Public Health had sent a letter to school districts in Denton County, recommending that they not hold in-person instruction until Sept. 8. Lewisville ISD took that advice and will keep schools closed at least that long.
Argyle ISD, however, will remain on schedule for its Return to Learning plan for in-person and virtual learning with an Aug. 17 start, according to the district. The district will also follow the UIL schedule for 4A, which was not substantially changed like the 5A and 6A schedules. The district will be adhering to Texas Education Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety guidelines and procedures for in-person learning.
Ultimately, the board decided it would be best for AISD students, staff and the community is to maintain the current schedule, according to a news release from the district. In making its decision, the Board took into consideration extensive feedback from parents and community members and the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that support in-person instruction for students and the impact of learning by returning to the classroom. Schools provide many services in addition to learning for students including meals, technology, social interaction and access to essential services.
“We are grateful for the information provided to the Board by Denton County Public Health and we reviewed their recommendations extensively and discussed thoroughly,” Argyle ISD School Board President Sam Slaton said. “We believe this decision to start in-person on Aug. 17 is in the best interest of our students, staff and community and benefits the entire well-being of our Eagles.”
Parents who would like their children to follow the virtual learning model will still have this option. The deadline for choosing the virtual learning model is Aug. 3.
Trustees stressed the district is focused on teacher safety in the classroom by expanding safety and training procedures for their protection as they return to in-person instruction for the first time since March. They also credited the health protocols already put in place by the district and cited the positive impact of safety guidelines and procedures being implemented by students and staff during the summer strength and conditioning as well as band practices that started in June. Throughout the summer, reported contacts and cases have been minimal.
”We are very excited to welcome back our students and staff on Aug. 17 both in-person and virtually,” Argyle ISD Superintendent Dr. Telena Wright said. “We have challenges ahead and are committed to exhausting all measures and resources to keeping our Eagles as safe as possible when they return. These are circumstances we could never have imagined, but we have incredible teachers and staff ready to provide the level of excellence our families and students expect.”
Argyle ISD has been diligent in reviewing safety procedures and guidelines by creating a COVID-19 Task Force earlier this summer which consists of teachers and campus and district administrators. The task force examines protocols for virtual and in-person learning for the 2020-2021 school year and provides updates on a regular basis.
The district asks for the Argyle ISD community’s partnership and support during this crucial time as it prepares for the start of school by diligently following all safety guidelines where possible, including physical distancing, limited exposure to social gatherings, wearing face coverings in public and washing or cleaning hands as often as possible.
“We are very confident in our Argyle ISD leadership and teachers in how they have handled the circumstances in the spring, and we are just as confident moving forward that the measures are in place for a safe return for students and staff,” Slaton said. “We listened to our community in regard to the social and emotional needs of our students, and we now ask the community to partner with us by following protocols for a safe return to school.”