Posted Date: 03/25/2020
Press Release from JISD Superintendent Rob Barnwell:
March 25, 2020
First of all I want to say Thank You to all our staff. We have folks who have been working tirelessly to make sure we provide quality instruction and healthy food to all of our students. I haven't heard one complaint from an employee, even though they are being asked to do many things they are not used to doing. The same goes for our students and parents. I must say Thank You to those folks too, as they have also been tasked with doing some things they are not accustomed to, but everyone has been very patient and understanding as we attempt to navigate through this difficult situation.
There have been a few questions from students and parents related to students' grades during this unique situation. As we continue to provide instruction remotely, it is my belief that teachers should refrain from taking/inputting grades in the normal, traditional sense. In other words, our students are all in various "learning" environments with different resources at this time. Obviously, our teachers are not able to work one-on-one with students in a face-to-face setting as normal, which means most of the nuances and subtleties of teaching are lost....such as 'teachable moment' opportunities, expanding a concept, extending learning through 'deep-thinking' questioning, etc. Therefore, the lack of those things, along with many more necessary aspects of teaching, makes it problematic to hold every student to any sort of consistent standard at this point. We must adjust our expectations accordingly.
Specifically, we should continue to expect students to put forth effort and participate in class assignments. In that sense, I believe it may be appropriate for teachers to record "participation grades", or at least, document the fact that a student is putting forth effort. It is important for students to be academically prepared for the challenges that next school year brings. Therefore, a determination will have to be made for every student regarding graduation/promotion. We shouldn't blindly expect that every student be promoted to the next grade without considering whether or not that student has mastered sufficient concepts. We know that it is important for students to have the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful next school year. Promotion/graduation should be considered by relying on grades and academic success during the first three quarters of this school year, along with whatever progress is made and what work is done between now and the end of the school year, no matter how long this 'remote learning' situation is in place.
It is very difficult to give specific, concrete answers to every question raised at this point, as we all know we've never been in this type of situation before. However, I urge everyone to try hard, communicate well, remain patient, and use common sense. If we all do those things, then everything will work out fine. We are doing a LOT of things right! There are other school districts in our region who are using some of our models/procedures to implement in their own schools. Of course, I communicate daily with many of those superintendents in order to share ideas and learn from one another. There will continue to be snags along the way. However, our folks have done a tremendous job of brainstorming and planning in a short period of time recently, and since they continue to work hard and communicate appropriately, we are making great strides. Again, I appreciate the efforts of everyone involved.
As you know, normal school operations have been suspended through April 3rd. I have been getting daily updates from Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Commissioner of Education Mike Morath regarding state news. I also read updates from the CDC and watch the daily press conferences from President Trump to stay abreast of national news related to COVID19. I will continue to use that information to help us locally when it comes to deciding whether or not the "return to school date" should be extended to a later date. I expect to share updated information on that subject by the first of next week in order to give everyone concerned the time to properly prepare for it. We plan to continue to share information with everyone through our all-call system, local media, the JISD website, and the JISD Facebook page.
In the meantime, I urge everyone to continue to communicate as needed. If you have questions or concerns about academics/lessons, etc., please communicate with the appropriate teachers (or administrators, if necessary). If you have a question or concern about foodservice, please contact Stephanie Holman through email or phone. ( firstname.lastname@example.org 903-665-2461 ext. 3003 )
Thank you all again. It is evident the Bulldog Family is strong..... Go Dawgs !!