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MCISD administration has been working through the summer to ensure the upcoming school year will be a success – no matter what it looks like.
Last Wednesday Aug. 12, 2020, Superintendent Dr. Carol G. Perez presented updates on the 2020-2021 school year to the Board of Trustees.
The Mission Consolidated Independent School District held a virtual leadership academy for the school year, which involved all administrators including central office staff, principals, assistant principals, and all campus administrators.
The four-day training included a year in review from the last school year, an update for staff and student safety, curriculum and lesson planning information, a presentation from district licensed and professional counselors on coping in the age of COVID-19 and communications skills. The Region One Education Service Center presented on teaching and learning in a remote-learning environment.
“This was very critical, because we’ve been providing a lot of staff development,” Perez said. “At the same time, we’ve brought in the experts that validated a lot of the things that are already embedded in our curriculum to make sure that the lessons are varied and we utilize multi-sensory skills as we provide remote instruction.”
Perez spoke on how long, typically, a student is able to remain focused on one subject or topic of discussion. She used her own seven-year-old son as an example, stating the usual sitting power a student has is their age plus one.
“That’s eight minutes that a child at the age of seven can focus on one thing,” Perez said. “So what does that mean? Those lessons have to be very interactive. Remember, we have three year olds, five year olds and even secondary students that may be 15- and 16-year-olds. Their attention span is still not more than 20 minutes. We have to make sure the lessons are interactive, they’re hands-on and we’re providing quality instruction.”
Perez said specialists have provided administration with a lot of tips and techniques to support staff at the beginning of the year before teachers start working with students. MCISD teachers will receive nine days of staff development, six of which are district-led with specialists, coordinators, directors and staff from the service center. Three of those days will be for teachers to work on campus and prepare lessons.
Last week, the MCISD administration also received updates on Special Education, safety and security, technology, information systems, finance, child nutrition, payroll and the internal auditor. Personnel and human resources directors presented new information and protocols to staff, and maintenance, warehouse and transportation presented on guidelines and new procedures.
During board workshops held the week before, MCISD administration presented data gathered from staff indicating that 75 percent of teachers would be willing to offer remote and in-person for special needs children or the children of essential workers. Perez noted there were some technical issues gathering the data, and that it was originally calculated erroneously.
“It was a mistake – our programmer had reversed the fields,” Perez said. “Instead it was 25 percent of the instructional staff that was willing to come in and work with children while remote instruction was occurring.”
Perez said out of 1,264 teaching staff members, 1,119 filled out the survey, while 145 were not able to complete the survey. Of those who completed it, about 24 percent would prefer going in and working in person.
75.87 percent of teaching staff at MCISD would like to continue with remote instruction for an additional five weeks.
“We knew that the trends in the nation, in the state and locally were very marginal,” Perez said. “However, even 24 percent is pretty good compared to what we’re seeing with other surveys and TCTA [Texas Classroom Teachers Association] data.”
Staff concerns were that while they knew that classrooms were constantly being sanitized and cleaned, they also know what medical professionals and the scientific community are saying: that the coronavirus is extremely contagious. As the pandemic continues to progress, Perez said next month they would come to the board and possibly seek approval for an additional five weeks of remote instruction.
“In talking to our curriculum and instruction staff, it does not appear that 24 percent of staff would be enough staff to be able to teach children of essential workers and special needs children in-person,” Perez said. “So we will continue to monitor the data, especially in our county, in our city and in our state, and we will continue to dialogue.”