School’s out two weeks

Superintendent Dr. Mark Puig said schools in Beeville will reopen April 6. Students are being given homework so that learning doesn’t stop.

BEEVILLE – Students of Beeville ISD will still be able to get a free breakfast and lunch despite classes being canceled for the coming weeks.

“Parents and guardians need to know that BISD remains committed to serving our children to the greatest capacity. BISD’s meal program is up and running as well as our remote learning options,” said Superintendent Dr. Marc Puig. 

“I am confident that BISD will emerge from this crisis stronger and more efficient.

During this past spring break, the decision was made that all schools and offices within the district would not reopen until April 6. The reason — prevention of the spread of coronavirus also known as COVID-19.

“We are going to provide those snacks and meals to everyone just as if school is running, just maybe a little different,” said Puig.

As of last week, logistics for this distribution were still being worked out to ensure that the district was compensated for the meals by the state.

Erasmo Rodriguez, deputy superintendent, said they began planning the week prior anticipating this might occur.

Both breakfast and lunch meals will be given to students at the same time, likely from locations at the two elementary schools and the middle school.

Graduation

“I’m on the phone every day with TEA,” said Puig. “And right now, we’re just awaiting guidance on some of those things.  

“I would anticipate some waivers coming down in terms of STAAR for graduation in terms of retesting.

“I don’t want to guarantee any of that until the official word comes from TEA later on this week. 

“But I just feel there is a lot of flexibility with respect to some of these traditional testing requirements for graduation.”

The day prior, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he has waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness testing requirements for this school year. His waiver, though, did not address those needing to retest to graduate high school.

“I do anticipate a waiver on that,” Puig said. “But let’s wait to see what the commission says.”

Teachers and staff

“Are teachers getting paid? Yes,” Puig said. “I strongly recommend paying everyone. Again, we didn’t anticipate this. 

“It’s not their fault. 

“Just like when the district was closed because of Hurricane Harvey, the employees of this district will be paid.”

Some continue working

While students are off, some district employees will still be working including the custodial staff.

“So right now we are minimizing the waxing and focusing more on the detailed cleaning,” Puig said. 

Staff, he said, are doing a “hyper-disinfection total control process.

“We have EPA antimicrobial chemicals we’ve been using for several weeks to ensure that every nook and cranny is clean.

The district has been doing this cleaning since the start of flu season.

“It can be done at night,” Rodriguez said. “And it sanitizes the entire room, all the surfaces, all of the seats.”

Teachers will likely be working as the district looks at home-based assignments for the students.

“I think the online capabilities that we have are coming from some internal sources. Reading Plus has offered to give us kindergarten through 12th grade resources for free. Scholastic, as well,” Puig said. “Facebook now has come out and provided a plethora of learning tools. 

“So I think there won’t be any shortage.

“I think this is an exciting opportunity because eventually, education is going to go this way completely.”

For those without internet access, Spectrum is offering free wifi to all students.

“But I still think there’s going to be some low tech options and some high tech options,” Puig said. “Remember the days we were in school, and ‘Here’s a book and here are some learning objectives in a packet.’”

In response to concerns of the lack of a computer in many households, Puig held up his smartphone.

“A lot of our kiddos have one of these, and its better than mine,” he said. “You’d be amazed how many folks have one of these. 

“And this is a learning device.”

While the district set the April date, the district could extend this further.

“However, the situation is evolving almost by the hour.  So we’ll need to be agile, monitoring and adjusting as we go,” Puig said. “We have contingency plans in place and are very fortunate to have a lot of support from all the governmental agencies.”

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 361-343-5221, or at editor@mySouTex.com.