ROUND ROCK, Texas - There's a balloon covered entranceway and the familiar music, but the graduation ceremony at Round Rock ISD's Kelly Reeves Sports Complex was far from traditional.  "And so we just put our heads together to come up with a way to do it, safely, with social distancing, but allow these kids to have their moment,” said RRISD Spokesperson Jenny LaCoste-Caputo. view article arw

During Monday night’s special called meeting, the Whitehouse ISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to allow authorized WISD personnel to carry concealed guns while on campus. At the meeting, the school board addressed school safety before it voted to approve the Guardian Plan. “WISD believes everyone has the right to a safe and caring environment,” a press release stated. “The Guardian Plan will ensure an effective and timely response to emergency situations.” view article arw

As Carroll ISD officials weigh how COVID-19 could affect the 2020-21 academic calendar, they reviewed at a May 18 meeting possible changes to the school year's structure.  Janet McDade, CISD's assistant superintendent for student services, shared two calendars at the May 18 meeting: one that would add three weeks of COVID-19 flexible days and another that would add five weeks of flexible days. These changes would affect the start and end dates of the two semesters, according to documents reviewed by trustees.  These days would function similarly to bad-weather days, McDade said. In turn, the flexible days not used to shutter schools for possible COVID-19 resurgences mean students would not be in classes. Alternatively, if it is determined that the COVID-19 flexible days are not needed, then they could ultimately be removed. view article arw

The San Antonio Independent School District will hold outdoor high school graduations beginning next month at Alamo Stadium, its board decided Monday night.  (paywall) view article arw

The first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in people appears to be safe and able to stimulate an immune response against the virus, its manufacturer, Moderna, announced Monday.  The findings are based on results from the first eight people who each received two doses of the experimental vaccine, starting in March.  Those people, healthy volunteers ages 18 to 55, made antibodies that were then tested in infected cells in the lab and were able to stop the virus from replicating – the key requirement for an effective vaccine. The levels of those so-called neutralizing antibodies matched or exceeded the levels found in patients who had recovered after contracting the virus in the community. view article arw

As the nation’s education system begins to cope with the damage wrought by this public health emergency, and as the conversation in school communities shifts from emergency remote learning efforts to summer school, socially distanced classrooms, blended learning and long-term closures, we’re launching Phase One of what may become an extended effort to track disruptions, innovations and the long-term impact of coronavirus on major districts across the country. view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday announced his next wave of reopenings designed to restart the Texas economy during the coronavirus pandemic, saying child care facilities can reopen immediately, bars can open Friday with limited capacity and sporting events can return without fans at the end of the month.  Abbott also said he would permit restaurants to operate at 50% capacity starting Friday, up from 25% that’s allowed now.  At the same time, Abbott exempted two hotspots — Amarillo and El Paso — from his latest decisions, saying they would need to wait a week.   (19) view article arw

Due to continued uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Lake Travis ISD students attending the academic summer school session will do so through an online platform, according to a letter from Superintendent Brad Lancaster on May 7.  Additionally, school-run recreational and child care programs will be suspended until June 30, with refunds being processed for those previously enrolled.  “We acknowledge the hardship this places on parents to find other child care services,” Lancaster wrote. “We also recognize the impact on our many instructors and coaches who earn additional income through our summer programs.” view article arw

Clear Creek ISD administrators are preparing for the district’s eventual reopening and, at the same time, collecting feedback about how to best support families in the event of future academic disruptions. Guidelines released May 7 by the Texas Education Agency indicate that school districts across the state are likely to experience disruptions in the 2020-21 instructional year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Elaina Polsen, the district’s chief communications officer, said in a May 13 email that the TEA recognizes the fast-changing nature of the current situation and is providing guidance to educators accordingly.  “[Superintendent Greg Smith] is in regular contact with the Commissioner of Education and Region 4 superintendents,” Polsen wrote. “The work of the Safely Reopen CCISD Committee will be critical in shaping what our school year looks like.” view article arw

Texas can be a national leader in reimagining a more innovative and equitable K-12 public education system. Investing in technology infrastructure could be the 21st century’s equivalent to Lyndon B. Johnson’s 20th-century efforts to provide electricity to rural communities.  Other states are already considering ways to change their schools. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently suggested a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, noting that “It’s not about just reopening schools. When we are reopening schools, let’s open better schools and a smarter education system.” view article arw

Dripping Springs ISD has not made official decisions about the in-person status of classes for summer school or the regular 2020-21 school year, but Dripping Springs High School nurse Vickie Metzgar said district health services are already preparing campuses for the possibility of students returning to campus as the coronavirus threat continues. view article arw

[5 a.m.] Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Houston closed its doors after five leaders tested positive for the new coronavirus over the weekend, the Houston Chronicle reports. Holy Ghost resumed limited Masses three weeks ago, according to the Chronicle, and the church said in a statement that two of the five leaders who tested positive are priests who were active in those services.  The Rev. Donnell Kirchner, another church leader, died May 13 after being diagnosed with pneumonia, according to the Chronicle. Kirchner received the pneumonia diagnosis at an urgent care clinic, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said, and it’s unclear whether he was tested for the new coronavirus before he returned to the home where he lived with seven other members of a religious order.   (19) view article arw

Saturday's biggest developments: Texas reports highest one-day total of new coronavirus cases Texas coronavirus testing totals include some antibody tests More businesses can reopen on Monday, with precautions San Antonio event company's federal contract to distribute food draws criticism from food bank president view article arw

We have done everything we can, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide a normal experience for our Class of 2020 graduates. And we want to provide the most authentic graduation experience, within the guidelines of health, safety and social distancing.  Earlier this week, school districts in Dallas County received a letter from County Health Authority Director, Philip Huang, strongly discouraging indoor and outdoor graduations. We are still exploring ways we could do an in-person graduation in a safe way, but we have a robust “Plan B” in place – a hybrid graduation ceremony.  A hybrid graduation ceremony is a compilation of scholars in small groups filmed individually giving their graduation speeches and accepting their diplomas. This complies with the Governor’s Executive Orders and guidance from state and local public health officials. A full edited video will be released to the public via a link on chisd.net and the District’s YouTube channel on Thursday, June 25, 2020. view article arw

When Archer County Judge Randy Jackson got the call about two weeks ago from the state offering a pop-up mobile testing site, he turned it down. As metro areas across Texas report hundreds of new cases of the novel coronavirus daily, Archer County just received its first confirmed case Friday. With a population of roughly 8,500 near the Texas-Oklahoma border, the county has developed its own system, screening residents for symptoms, and sending them north to Wichita Falls or south to Olney to be tested, Jackson said.  “We’re spread out more and we don’t have the industry like bigger urban areas do, so we kind of had to initiate our own protocol,” Jackson said. “We’re taking care of ourselves.” view article arw

West Orange-Cove CISD Superintendent Dr. Rickie Harris has confirmed to The Orange Leader and also to the school district that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.  Harris remains positive about the situation.“I did test positive for the coronavirus,” Thank goodness, I did not get sick like so many other folks.” view article arw

Officials with the Gadsden Independent School District say they have decided to close four elementary school kitchens after reports employees were exposed to COVID-19 and/or flu like symptoms, the district announced Sunday.  The four elementary campuses affected are North Valley, Yucca Heights, Desert View and Vado.  Student nutrition program staff had been providing “Grab and Go” meals throughout the district since March 16 when the district closed.  “We are starting to have multiple employees report possible exposure to COVID-19 virus which typically means employees are referred for testing and quarantined until we have the results,” said Superintendent Travis Dempsey. view article arw

As state officials and some Texas cities tangle over local COVID-19 restrictions, El Paso officials say their area isn't ready for the next phase of reopening. They want Gov. Greg Abbott to give them an exemption.  County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said his community isn’t ready for the second phase of Texas’ reopening — and he has data to back up his opinion.  COVID-19 cases in this border city have surged this month as some businesses began reopening and more tests are being conducted. On May 1, when some state restrictions were lifted, El Paso County had 961 positive cases and 22 deaths. By May 14, cases had risen 67%, to 1,607 — the state's sixth-highest total — and the number of deaths had almost doubled to 43. view article arw

HARLINGEN — Life in the time of corona requires a flexibility of thought and action unparalleled by common occurrences. South Texas Independent School District has embraced that concept with impressive results.  “We actually started with what we call flexible learning the week after Spring Break,” said Amanda Odom, spokesperson for the district. STISD has an enrollment of about 4,200 students at six campuses from Olmito to Edinburg. view article arw

TAYLOR, Texas (KXAN) — The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office said two teens were killed in an ATV crash in Taylor on Saturday.  A sheriff’s office spokeswoman said of the three teens involved, two of them died. They were 14 and 15-years-old. The other juvenile who was involved sustained minor injuries.  Deputies responded to the crash around 4:30 p.m. at County Road 482. view article arw

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The Bullard ISD community is mourning the loss of one of it’s students.  The district announced on Saturday that Emma Sikes died. The letter from the district’s superintendent said Sikes was a sophomore at the high school and was an active member of band and FFA.  A facebook page was created to raise money for Sikes’ medical and funeral expenses. The page indicates she dies after being involved in a car accident. view article arw

DeSoto, TX– Since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, DeSoto ISD has shared its commitment to the wellbeing of its students and staff. As the district shifts to staff retention and recruitment for the upcoming year, the focus on wellness continues with the Board’s recent approval of mental health days amongst its new list of paid leave days for staff. view article arw

Three Texas-based public health experts, including a Texas A&M epidemiologist, had an hourlong forum midday Thursday to provide data and insight into COVID-19 modeling and testing in the state. The panelists discussed the nature of projection models, the importance of continued education about best health practices and talked about the potential dangers of reopening the economy — and society — too quickly.  view article arw

The principal and employees at a Northside ISD school are self-isolating after a fellow employee claimed to test positive for coronavirus. Northside ISD told KENS 5 that the employee was at the campus of Health Careers High School Friday along with staff who were closing out the campus for the school year. view article arw

The superintendent of Dallas schools says he is 75% confident that students will physically go back to school in August. The final decision of plans for the fall term is expected to come in June, Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said.  However, even if students return to school buildings, it won’t be business as usual. And, while there will be sports, they won't necessarily happen in the fall.  Hinojosa also shed some light on whether parents who don’t want their children in school because of COVID-19 will have to send them back to classes.  Hinojosa returned to DISD to serve as superintendent in October 2015. He has 20 years of administrative experience in six public education systems. That includes two of the 25 largest school systems in the United States – DISD in Texas and the Cobb County School District in suburban Atlanta.  view article arw

The superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District says he is 75 percent confident that students will physically go back to school in August. The final decision of plans for the fall term is expected to come in June, DISD's Michael Hinojosa said in an interview on WFAA's Inside Texas Politics on Sunday.  However, even if students return to school buildings, he said it won’t be business as usual. And, there will be sports, but not necessarily in the fall.  Hinojosa also said if there are parents who don’t want their children to attend school because of COVID-19 concerns, DISD is planning to have online learning accommodations. He said the district is currently sending out a survey to parents to find out that type of information. view article arw

HISD trustees voted Thursday to begin the months-long process of seeking a state designation that could result in students returning to classes in mid-August, starting with the 2021-22 school year.In a 7-2 vote, trustees agreed to start planning for obtaining a District of Innovation status, which allows education leaders to get exemptions from certain state laws.  HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan has recommended consideration of three exemptions that would the allow the district to start school earlier in the year, more easily hire non-certified educators for vocational teaching positions and award credit to students even if they do not spend 90 percent of their time in the classroom. view article arw

Pilgrim’s Pride will consider setting up a COVID-19 testing site at the Lufkin plant in a meeting with local, state and public health officials today, according to a state official. “This is a partnership that is working together and looking at how to facilitate testing for the plant in the near future,” Seth Christensen, the chief of media and communication for the state of Texas Department of Emergency Management, said.  The meeting is not open to the public but could result in onsite testing for Pilgrim’s employees. view article arw

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump called on governors across the nation to work to reopen schools that were closed because of the coronavirus, pointedly taking issue with Dr. Anthony Fauci's caution against moving too quickly in sending students back to class.  The president accused Fauci of wanting "to play all sides of the equation," a comment that suggested he is tiring of the nation's top infectious disease expert. view article arw

It starts with a phone call. You may have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, a kind-sounding voice tells you: You should self-isolate and get tested for Covid-19, if possible. The caller is careful not to reveal the identity of the infected individual you’ve crossed paths with; if they’re good at their job, they’re sensitive both to your fears and the others’ privacy. view article arw

The Texas Education Agency suggests school districts use intersessional calendars for the 2020-2021 school year.  BRYAN, Texas — High student absenteeism and school closures are what the Texas Education Agency expects the 2020-2021 school year to consist of.  The TEA's research shows these disruptions could have students returning to school “nearly a full year behind what normally occurs.” To help combat that, the agency suggests schools use intersessional calendars. view article arw

In a speech that was in turn optimistic and sobering, Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan Friday cautioned that for Houston ISD students whose studies and lives have been disrupted by COVID-19:  "It could take us several years to rebound. It could take us three to five years."  At a press conference outside the Hattie Mae White administration building, Lathan said the district has been able to reach "95 percent of our 206,000 students that were enrolled as of April 4, 2020" during the stay-at-home and school-closure weeks. view article arw

DeSoto, TX– Since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, DeSoto ISD has shared its commitment to the wellbeing of its students and staff. As the district shifts to staff retention and recruitment for the upcoming year, the focus on wellness continues with the Board’s recent approval of mental health days amongst its new list of paid leave days for staff.  DEC (Local) is the policy that houses the district’s regulations on employee leave and now states that staff will receive an additional three (3) local leave days with two of the three days classified as mental health days and available once each semester. However, the employee can utilize the three days at their discretion on a “no questions asked” basis, if requested according to leave procedures and adhere to the stated blackout dates. view article arw

In light of the coronavirus crisis disrupting K-12 education this spring, the Texas Education Agency on May 7 issued guidelines for adjustments to the 2020-21 academic calendar. However, Round Rock ISD Superintendent Steve Flores said May 14 that the district does not plan to alter the school calendar at this time.  “Right now, we’re not talking about an extension of the calendar,” Flores said. “Extensive discussions would have to occur. We will be as flexible as possible, but at this point, that’s not something that we’re looking at.” view article arw

For five years now, Cafe Momentum in downtown Dallas has been successfully operating as a nonprofit restaurant staffed by at-risk youth who receive life and job skills training after release from juvenile detention centers. So far, 750 adolescents have participated in the feel-good restaurant’s internship.  To continue the mission after dining rooms were ordered closed in March, founder and executive chef Chad Houser pivoted. His new approach to culinary social work is called Momentum E.A.T.S — engage, act, transform. Donations from corporations, other nonprofits and individuals have enabled Momentum Eats to provide 76,000 free meals to food-insecure families in Dallas and Richardson. view article arw