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Denton County Public Health issues recommendations to school districts, includes starting in-class S

Denton County Public Health (DCPH) Director Dr. Matt Richardson and DCPH Health Authority Dr. Marty Buchanan issued recommendations to independent school districts within Denton County on Monday, July 27, 2020, to provide guidance on the upcoming school year. These recommendations allow local district boards to make district-wide decisions while COVID-19 health and safety precautions remain prioritized.

In light of continued high community transmission of COVID-19 in Denton County, and in addition to the available scientific knowledge of transmission across Texas and the United States, DCPH is making the following countywide recommendations to school officials:

1. Delay face-to-face instruction until September 8th

The following exceptions may be necessary, and should require continual use of facial coverings and physical distancing:

• On-site virtual instruction activities by administrators, teachers and staff school-sponsored events/activities such as UIL sports, bands, choirs, competitions and similar events may be conducted outdoors with the use of masks and physical distancing.

• Self-contained special education instruction may occur when necessary and in accordance with TEA guidelines, as feasible.

2. Schools should conduct virtual, remote, or distance learning activities, in compliance with their approved start dates, prior to Tuesday, September 8th to meet TEA requirements.

3. School administrators, teachers, and staff may return to school campuses to provide virtual learning instructional activities, provide food distribution including free and reduced lunch services and to perform administrative duties, as consistent with TEA guidelines.

4. Schools should create, maintain, and provide a safety protocol/plan for resuming in-person instruction on or after Tuesday, September 8th to the school boards and disseminate the plan to parents and stakeholders two weeks prior to re-opening campuses, per ISD approved calendars.

For now, Argyle ISD will remain on schedule and will resume in-person, as well as virtual learning, on Aug. 17. Athletics will follow the UIL’s plan for Class 4A, which includes starting football and volleyball practice Monday.

The move came after Denton County Public Health director Dr. Matt Richardson spent nearly an hour fielding questions from board members.

During that time, Richardson said the county public health’s recommendation applied to UIL and extracurricular events, as well.

On Tuesday evening, Krum ISD announced it will still begin in person learning on August 19th, as well as remote learning.

As of Wednesday, Sanger ISD didn’t have an announcement. “We collectively, as a team of eight (at SISD) are weighing all the pros and cons associated with all available avenues. We will be making a full/final decision soon,” said SISD Superintendent Dr. Tommy Hunter.

Leaders from the following Denton County school districts are collaborating to share how the recommendation affects their respective schools: Argyle ISD, Aubrey ISD, Denton ISD, Krum ISD, Lake Dallas ISD, Lewisville ISD, Little Elm ISD, Pilot Point ISD, Ponder ISD, Westlake Academy ISD and Sanger ISD.

Each school district will make its own decision separately based on the best interest of its community and those decisions will be communicated directly to families by district leaders.

SISD is scheduled to start on-line and in-class on August 24. But, could push back the in-class to September 8 with the new recommendations.

“We continue to utilize the latest information available to us locally and through the scientific community in order to provide recommendations to best protect all community members in Denton County,” stated Dr. Buchanan. “School district boards remain the decision makers in determining their school calendars, methods of education provision, and daily education operations.”

“We remain in continued communication with superintendents throughout Denton County as we navigate this unprecedented time due to COVID-19,” Dr. Richardson stated. “These recommendations are due to growing case counts, growing positivity rates, and the likely disease transmission that occurs days before symptoms occur. We take these and other factors into consideration when making this recommendation.”

These recommendations comply with the intent of Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order, as well as guidance for school districts provided by the Texas Education Agency.

Sanger High School head football coach Rocky Smart has postponed his SHS and SMS parent meetings after the Denton County recommendations were released Monday afternoon. He’s also had to reschedule the first two football games because of the Tarrant County Mandate last week. Benbrook and Lake Worth contests were replaced with Clifton and Ferris.


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