Q&A: NISD discusses safety precautions, options for students in the upcoming 2020-21 school year

Office hours will be available for parents and students to check in on a daily basis with teachers

Parents, do you feel comfortable sending your kids back to school this year?
Parents, do you feel comfortable sending your kids back to school this year?

Parents, do you feel comfortable sending your kids back to school this year?

Now is the time to determine if you are selecting the virtual learning model or in-person learning for your student.

As San Antonio’s largest school district of choice, Northside ISD is preparing to head back to school this fall on Aug. 24 with all virtual learning.

Northside ISD superintendent, Brian Woods, assured parents that safety measures are in place for students in each of the buildings -- and options are available for virtual learning and in-person learning once it’s safe to go back.

1) What does school look like for the fall, and what options do parents have?

“Next week we will ask parents to, once we are able to have students in our buildings, to choose either an in-person option or a virtual option,” Woods said. “At our high schools, the in-person option will actually be an alternating hybrid model. At our elementary and middle schools, the in-person option would be every day in personal choice.”

NISD teachers will have office hours for parents and students to check in on a daily basis.

2) If parents choose virtual, how will that be different than what students and families experience in the spring?

Woods expressed that one of the most common pieces of feedback in the spring was that some students didn’t experience a lot of synchronous or real-time instruction.

“At our elementary grades, there will be multiple synchronous or real-time instructional periods of time during the day,” the superintendent said. “They will check in with their teacher a number of times during the day. Each student will experience real-time instruction during the day and have time to work independently.”

3) Can you talk a little about some of the safety protocols Northside schools are taking?

Since spring, the district has been in the process of purchasing and hanging plexiglass in high traffic areas and has installed hand sanitizer in 7,000 classrooms and in hallways.

“We’ve measured literally every classroom for the desks to be spaced sufficiently apart,” Woods said. “Custodians will clean the schools from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. with constant cleaning through the day.”

4) Next week, you are asking parents to fill out a commitment survey. Could you talk about that and tell us why that survey is important.

Once it’s safe to have students in the buildings, the schools will need a schedule for the students based on virtual learning and in-person learners.

“Having families make a commitment to tell us what you prefer at the start of the school year enables us to have a schedule for them on our first day of school -- it’s really important for our planning,” Woods said.

The district offers a variety of academic programs designed to engage all students and recognizes all students’ individualized needs in an inclusive environment. Northside is home to more than 106,000 students in 120 schools, including its high school and middle school magnets.

“We know the keys to student success are dedicated, passionate teachers engaging with students and giving each one the opportunity to create and learn in new and exciting ways,” said a representative for NISD.

To learn more about the back-to-school guidelines, click here.