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Sharyland announces back-to-school plan

The Sharyland school district is preparing to distribute Chromebooks to each of their students just in time for the upcoming school year.

On Wednesday, district Chief Technology Officer David Culberson confirmed that the district received a “massive shipment” of the 4,330 Chromebooks the district ordered last May as part of a $1.1 million plan to give each student in the district a Chromebook to participate in distance learning when schools begin their school year later this month.

“We’ve been receiving parts of the order since last week and expect rest by the end of the week,” Culberson said, adding that the district will soon announce details on how students can check out Chromebooks.

The newly received Chromebooks will be provided to students in addition to the more than 6,000 Chromebooks the district already had in place. They will be used as part of the district’s newly approved school year calendar for each student to participate in remote learning for the first six weeks of school starting on Monday, Aug. 17.

With the Chromebooks, the district continues to invest in technology after school board trustees previously approved the purchase of hundreds of Wi-Fi hotspots for student use as they do remote learning and nearly $180,000 to purchase 52 walkthrough temperature scanners last month.

According to district facilities Manager Mark Dougherty, the district received the temperature scanners and began installing them in entrances of every Sharyland campus and building to monitor the temperature of those coming to the district. Dougherty added that installation of each scanner will be completed by next week.  

As per an order from the county, all public and private schools in Hidalgo County will not re-open for in-campus instruction until after Sunday, Sept. 27.

If on-campus instruction is allowed after September 28, schools will transition to The Parent Choice Plan, the district announced in a special meeting last week. Under this plan, each family may choose whether their child learns on-campus or remotely for the remainder of the school year. 

Should a parent decide to let their child learn on site, the district will follow CDC guidelines for school health and safety which include providing PPE to all students and staff while enforcing physical distancing and daily deep cleaning of every building.

Parents who decide to continue with remote learning can do so as the district continues to provide an education fully aligned to the instruction being delivered on campus. 

Students taking remote learning will take prescheduled, real-time instruction and two to four hours of virtual interaction with teachers and fellow students throughout the day.

The rest of the school day will consist of independent practice and ongoing support, according to the district.  

“Regardless of your decision, your children will receive the high-quality instruction that you have come to know and expect from Sharyland ISD teachers,” district Superintendent Maria M. Vidaurri said in a statement. “The safety of our students and staff is our first priority, and we are preparing the best we can for all possible scenarios.  I am confident that our school community will continue our tradition of excellence, no matter the obstacle.”

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