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EPISD asks state to extend virtual learning through Oct. 12

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT -- Aug. 11, 2020) — EPISD will ask the Texas Education Agency for an option to extend virtual learning if health conditions do not improve by Sept. 8.

The City of El Paso Department of Health has mandated that El Paso schools remain closed until Sept. 8. The waiver would allow EPISD to delay on-campus instruction until Oct. 12.

The request was approved by the Board of Trustees on Tuesday in compliance with new allowances outlined by the Texas Education Agency for virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, the health conditions in El Paso continue to look unfavorable for a safe return to campuses for our students and employees. This extension will give our employees and our families more time to cope with the health conditions and learn safely from home,” said Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera. “We will continue to focus our plans on providing high-quality instruction to all students using virtual strategies and further our training of teachers to make sure the needs of students remain a top priority.”

On-campus instruction could begin sooner if the rate of COVID-19 cases is maintained at 5 percent or lower for 14 consecutive days.

The first day of instruction for all EPISD students is Monday, Aug. 17. Students will begin classes virtually using newly strengthened modules for distance learning. Students will have one-on-one time with their teacher on a constant basis and work together in student groups to complete assignments, all using apps and programs designed for distance learning.

EPISD continues to lead the way in the distribution of technology and the devices needed to be successful in virtual learning. For more than four years, all middle- and high-school students has received a District-issued MacBook Air laptop, and WiFi hotspots are available for any student who indicates need.

The Board of Trustees earlier this spring approved the purchase of iPads and other devices that will be distributed to every elementary-school student in the District.

“We have been in the forefront of instructional technology and we’re thankful to have been better prepared for virtual learning because of it,” Cabrera said. “We are confident that with the training of 

our teachers, the use of technology and the development of other strategies to help families who may struggle with digital literacy, we will be able to get through these challenges better than when we entered them.”

EPISD will continue to ask parents to pick from one of the three learning options for the 2020-2021 school year. Once in-person classes are allowed in the city, it will help the District properly plan the return of students and staff to campuses.

Parents have the options to select:

  • Full virtual learning using EPISD@Home;
  • Staggered learning combining in-person instruction with virtual learning using EPISD@Home; and
  • For a selected number of students in special programs, full in-person instruction five days a week.

Parents are asked to review the three available options for learning at www.episd.org/reopeningplan and then let the District know which option they have picked for each of their children here: https://tools.episd.org/tools/inline/student_survey_2021.

“We still have not heard from many of our parents on how they want their children to learn and it’s imperative that they let us know as soon as possible,” Cabrera said. “We know this school year will present challenges for our teachers, students and families. But we also know that together we can tackle these difficult times and thrive.”

Story by Gustavo Reveles