Students will continue their education at home for at least the next few weeks after growing concerns over the coronavirus lead El Campo and Louise ISD officials to close schools.
Officials for the districts plan to continue lessons using a mix of take-home materials and online instruction.
ECISD administrators presented their plan for the next few weeks to the school board Monday night at a special meeting. Student instruction will continue through packets, which will be mailed home later this week, according to an ECISD press release.
“It’s uncharted waters,” Assistant Superintendent Dolores Trevino said. “We’ve never had to do this.”
If the district is unable to safely open schools within the next two to three weeks, officials plan to continue instruction using online materials. Teachers would be available to answer questions during office hours using video chats or phone calls.
“We’re asking a lot from our teachers, but I don’t think it’s anything that’s hard, it’s just a matter of getting this done,” Trevino said.
Administrators and school board members agreed that parent involvement will be vital to the success of students’ education during this time.
ECISD is closed until at least April 3. The district will make adjustments on the closure date if needed.
LISD Superintendent Garth Oliver elected to cancel school after less than one-third of students attended classes Monday.
“That, to me, is a pretty clear indication that the community really (wanted) us to do something different,” Oliver said.
He made the announcement Monday that the district would be closed for an undetermined period. Students can pick up assignments once per week, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Mondays, and a few faculty members will be available to answer student questions during that time.
“That’s why it’s indefinite, because we have no idea what the outcome of this is going to be,” Oliver said.
Free to-go sack lunches will be offered daily for children by ECISD. Beginning today, food service staff will hand out meals in a drive-through style system at Northside Elementary, 2610 Meadow Lane, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
“We’re asking (parents and students) to stay in the vehicles, because we don’t want to congregate at any point,” Trevino said.
The district will be following summer feeding program guidelines, given by the Texas Department of Agriculture.
“They do have to have the child present in the car,” Trevino said. “However many kids they have in the car, that’s how many meals we can give them.”
Children under 18 can receive meals, even if they are not an ECISD student.
Should an ECISD student not have access to a laptop at home, they will be allowed to check one out from Northside at 5:30 to 6 p.m. on March 20. A drive-through system will be used for pickup.
No cases of coronavirus have been reported in Wharton County as of presstime. Confirmed or possible COVID-19 cases have been identified in nearby Matagorda, Brazoria and Fort Bend counties.
One possible coronavirus-related death was reported Sunday night, involving an elderly man in Matagorda County. This is the first death to be linked to the virus in Texas.