GISD still starting school Aug. 17 in-person, online


A special meeting was called Monday, Aug. 3 by the Gonzales Independent School District School Board to discuss returning to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as distribution of new technology purchased for students.

The district will give parents a grace period is determining if in-person or online instruction work best. The district will start reaching out to parents on Aug. 10.

Class are scheduled to start Aug. 17.

Superintendent John Schumacher said during his report that the board consulted with local physicians Humberto Rivas and Commie Hisey about reopening.

 Hisey, who spoke at the meeting, encouraged the return to campus in light of increased reports of child abuse nationwide during the pandemic.

Hisey suggested teachers use a mixture of four teaspoons of bleach to a quart of water, which expires after 24 hours, to sanitize the desks of students. Hisey said this may be one of the most effective means of preventing the spread of coronavirus among school children.

Board members as well as staff and faculty discussed what safety precautions are being taken to ensure students are safe while on campus.

These measures include:

  • Screening students’ temperatures before they get on the bus to go to school, when they arrive, during lunch, and before they leave for the day.
  • Mandatory wearing of masks, as well as the provision of face shields for staff and faculty upon request. Students are encouraged to wear their own masks, but they will be provided one if they do not arrive with one. Staff and faculty will also be provided with two reusable masks to alternate.
  • Changes in lunch structure, where meals will be brought to classrooms as opposed to students going to cafeterias. Gonzales High School, which has previously allowed students to leave during lunch, will not allow students to leave for at least the first two weeks.

In person vs. online

Differences between choosing to attend school on site or online were also discussed, as well as some misconceptions about the way courses will be handled.

Students will still need to complete coursework every day in order to be counted present for attendance. If a student misses more than 10% of the school year and does not pass with at least 70% in their core subjects, they will not be permitted to advance to the next grade level.

For the purposes of receiving funding based on attendance, the Texas Education Agency will use the average of the last three years’ attendance rates.

There will be a grace period for parents to determine which method of learning works best for them and their children. For example, if a parent selects the asynchronous learning model but finds that their schedule is better suited to the synchronous on-site option, they will be allowed to switch.

In July, the board voted to provide each student in the district with either a Chromebook or an iPad based on grade level, and distribution plans are underway for them to be checked out to students beginning Aug. 17, with more detailed information to come.

Other agenda items which were discussed include:

  • Approval of Consent Agenda and Budget amendments to purchase more technology updates for campuses and students including hotspots.
  • Approval of alternate K and 7th grade reading instruments due to COVID-19.
  • Approval of utilization of the Community Eligibility Provision Child Nutrition Program.
  • Approval of the Operation Connectivity Interlocal Acquisition Agreement with Region 4 Education Service Center for Technology Purchases, which includes the plan for distribution of Chromebooks.