By JONATHAN LEIJA
The San Benito Consolidated Independent School District (SBCISD) recently received the approval from Texas Education Agency (TEA) to proceed with its two-week phase-in preparing to the return of Pre K – fifth grade classes as part of its elementary phase-in for face-to-face schooling and fifth-eighth as part of their middle school phase-in, according to SBCISD Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Nate Carman.
During last week’s regular school board meeting, Carman explained that fifth and eighth grades are both Student Success Initiative (SSI) grades, meaning students are required to pass the Task, Actions, and Results exam (STAR) to move on to the next grade level, unless the state happens to waive that requirement later this year. Ninth graders at Veterans Memorial Academy will also be part of Phase Two since they have taken their course exams so they can graduate and allow them to become seniors in three years, according to Carman.
“I do have some numbers at our elementary. On the five grade levels we have there, about 32% of our students are taking advantage of face-to-face learning. In the eighth grade today, (we’re only at) 18.8%, so we are extremely low on percentages that want face-to-face. The rest are still remote. At VMA’s, even though it’s a hybrid model, we’re right at 13% that showed up for face-for-face (instruction). We did not invite back all our grade levels. We will be inviting back our seniors on November 30, and on December 7, we will be inviting back all other grade levels to return,” said Carman at the meeting.
A total of 9,720 students have enrolled across SCISD for face-to-face classes, stated the district’s public relations director, Isabel C. Gonzalez in an email to the News.
Carman explained during the meeting, “We thought the safest mode of operation was to move one adult instead of moving 11 or 12 students in those four classrooms, and all electives are to be had though their devices in the afternoon.”
The same model will be used at all campuses to transition students, according to SBCISD Assistant Superintendent of Academic Services, Sarah A. Alvarado.
At the meeting, board trustee Janie Silva asked, “The concept of rotating teachers, they don’t feel good about it because they are contaminating themselves by moving from one room to another. In middle school, can they remain in the classroom and all the kids to have their own homeroom? The teachers do not want to rotate for fear that they might catch the COVID-19 in another classroom or walking through the hallways.”
Board Trustee Ramiro Moreno answered, “I don’t think that’s feasible.” To which Vice President Sonia Weaver also added, “No, it’s going to be safer for that one teacher to move then having all the students move from one room to another.”
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