By George Slaughter
Parents in the Katy Independent School District have been asking questions and expressing concerns about how the district plans to reopen schools on August 19 with the coronavirus pandemic still raging. Monday night, Superintendent Dr. Ken Gregorski provided an overview of what people could expect.
Families can choose whether students return to school online only, or in-person. Students planning to take online instruction through the Katy Virtual Academy—the district’s online program—must register by August 5 through the web site.
Students planning to in-person instruction do not need to take additional action, Gregorski said.
Regardless of the online or in-person choice, for the first three weeks of school, students will be in online classes only. The online-only for the first three weeks scenario comes following an order, issued last week by Harris County and City of Houston officials, to restrict in-person learning due to a growing number of coronavirus cases. Gregorski said that although the district includes parts of Harris, Fort Bend, and Waller counties, the Harris County orders affected all in the district, regardless of address.
Students aren’t the only ones who can choose in-person learning. Gregorski said teachers can conduct their classes either from their classrooms or their homes as they see fit. He said he hoped they would conduct their classes from their classrooms because they would have access to all their materials and their campus colleagues.
“We desperately need to see the levels of COVID-19 go down,” Gregorski said, adding that officials are working to develop new metrics and guidance for in-person instruction after the initial online period. “We’re looking at data, considering the metrics, and creating as safe an environment as possible.”
Trustees had questions for Gregorski following his report. Trustee Dawn Champagne had a list of 25 questions, several of which, she said, had follow-up questions. Board President Courtney Doyle suggested that the questions be submitted to Gregorski for answering and posting on the district web site this week.
Gregorski said anxiety is high as the district works to alter its plans to meet the evolving pandemic.
“Nobody has all the answers and nothing is easy,” Gregorski said.
Gregorski said the district’s Start-Restart web page, which provides information on the district’s reopening plans, is contiually updated. District officials are also answering e-mailed questions from the public at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other action Monday, the board:
- Heard a presentation on attendance boundary modification for the 2021-2022 school year.
- Heard a presentation about budget updates for the current school year.
- Approved notice of the public meeting to discuss the district budget and proposed tax rate.
- Approved a non-objection letter for establishing a foreign trade zone and associated contribution agreement.
- Approved district in the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Grant.
- Approved the May 2020 financial reports.
- Approved the July 2020 budget amendments.
- Approved parent notification for students at risk of failure waiver.
- Approved the House Bill 3 (HB 3) five-year goals and targets for the district, elementary campuses, and high school campuses.
- Gave a pre-approval for Gregorski to submit a virtual learning plan consistent with TEA requirements for the Katy Virtual Academy.
- Approved a Memorandum of Understanding for Operation of a Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP) with Fort Bend County. The board also approved a similar memorandum with Harris County.
- Approved a contract for renovations to both the Outdoor Learning Center and the Pavilion Annex (former L.D. Robinson Pavilion building).
- Approved design and construction delivery methods for Raines High School.
- Set the school board trustee election for November 3. This is a rescheduling of the election originally set for May, but delayed in response to the pandemic.
- Appointed Page Rander to Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Board of Directors for Region 4, Position B. Rander serves as a trustee with the Clear Creek Independent School District Board of Trustees.
- Approved Trustees Lance Redmon as a delegate and Trustee Susan Gesoff as an alternate delegate to the 2020 Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Delegate Assembly.
- Approved the June meeting minutes.
- Reviewed a list of donated items to the district.
- Reviewed the district’s quarterly investment report.