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Board considers learning plan

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EUSTACE–Eustace ISD Board of Trustees met July 2 to discuss and consider a learning plan for the upcoming school year. Superintendent Dr. Coy Holcombe began the meeting by explaining that there are two new methods to receive funding through remote instruction, Synchronous Instruction and Asynchronous Instruction.
Synchronous instruction requires all participants to be present at the same time but virtually. For example, live interactive classes with students and teachers participating in real time, teacher supported work time on video conference calls with scheduled and timed online testing. This method requires 180 instructional minutes for third through fifth grades and 240 instructional minutes for sixth through 12th grades. Pre-kindergarten through second grades are not eligible to earn funding through the synchronous instruction model of learning.
Asynchronous instruction does not require all participants to be virtually present at the same time. Instead it offers, self-paced online courses with intermittent teacher instruction, pre-assigned work with formative assessments on paper or in a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Google Classroom, watching pre-recorded videos of instruction with guided support. Pre-kindergarten through 12th grades would receive full funding through asynchronous instruction. The option does exist to split the two programs between the grades also. If the district decides to proceed with an asynchronous instruction model, a plan must be submitted to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).  
“This is something I need to emphasize greatly. We have heard nothing about what in person learning is going to be. Nothing. I don’t even think they are close yet,” Holcombe said. “So right now, if you were to ask me what is learning going to look like when it is here as far as restrictions, I have no idea. Nobody else does either.” Dr. Holcombe spoke about specific steps EISD will be taking once school is back in session on district campuses which include disinfectants, hand sanitizers and stands for each classroom and the thermal imaging systems.   
Eustace Middle School Principal Michael Rowland provided data during the meeting regarding individual household surveys that were conducted. The survey concluded that 77% of families would choose to attend school in person when school starts Aug. 19. Other information gathered during the survey included internet and computer access availability for each student. Internet access is a concern for students within the district. EISD board of trustees is working on ideas for students who wish to continue distance learning or in the event of another district/state health shutdown.
A demonstration of Google Classroom to the board was also provided as a possible LMS for the district. Google Classroom is presented in a unified platform to students. “If you want to use an app or Flocabulary (.com) or some other great thing that would help with your educational strategy, that’s fine. Don’t ask the students or the parents to find a login and have to log into it, embed it in your Google Classroom,” Rowland explained. This still provides teacher creativity, but in one LMS.
Rowland played videos that teachers made in the spring for their students and showed how they used Google Classroom for their students. Google Meet is available for teachers to conference with students on the Google Classroom platform also.
The board was responsive to Google Classroom as a possible LMS for the district, however no action was taken during the meeting on any item discussed. All school districts look to TEA for guidance before proceeding and developing plans, especially in the uncharted waters we have sailed since March.
If you are interested in COVID-19 information provided by TEA  visit https://tea.texas.gov/coronavirus.