COVID-19 response and what-ifs discussed at Special NISD Board meeting

Interim Superintendent Dr. Lana Collavo provided an update on the district’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic during the Special Natalia School Board meeting held Monday, May 4.

The Board also approved two new hires later in the meeting.

COVID-19 response

Collavo said COVID-19 had been a challenge for everyone involved in education, and that the district was reviewing instructional plans with input from administrators and staff.

“We have actually have not yet gotten [TEA] guidance on what we can do in the fall,” Collavo said.

A survey to gather input from parents is also in the works.

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Collavo said that staff could now return to campus a few at a time provided they exercise social distancing. Campus administrators are scheduling times for teachers to return to campus to close up their rooms for the summer.

“They’re going to be bagging the students’ belongings up so that we can arrange some type of pickup,” Collavo said, adding that specifics would come out soon.

Students are not yet allowed back on school campuses, so Collavo said an outdoor drop-off would also be arranged for the return of extracurricular equipment and apparel.

“We are supposed to get some kind of guidance from the TEA and the governor,” Collavo said.

The district is also waiting for guidance on what to do for students who still need to take certification exams and the like.

Collavo said the current plan is to bring administrators, maintenance, and custodial staff back to work on site by June 1 while maintain social distancing.

“We can only hope that we can open the doors next year,” Collavo said.

Graduation plans are still up in the air, and Collavo said the district was waiting on guidance from the TEA.

“We have to wait on guidance on what we can do to have some semblance of a normal graduation,” Collavo said. “That’s what everybody still wants to do, is some type of ceremony.”

Collavo said the district was in the process of ordering masks to be used during the next school year, but that they could also be used for those who choose to attend a graduation ceremony.

Some distance learning will continue during the summer, with hopes that summer school can take place in person in late July and early August.

Collavo acknowledged that the district is a facing a lot of what-ifs for the future.

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“There is no guidance right now for schools, other than we’re going to have to follow social distancing probably, more cleaning, that kind of thing,” Collavo said. “We discuss in every scenario what do we do if students have to sit six feet apart? How are we going to seat them? Where are we going to put them? Does that mean that we have half of the students at school, half doing distance learning? We don’t know yet.”

New hires

The Board voted unanimously to Guy Birdwell to teach high school English, and Steven Spangler to serve as the Lady Mustangs’ head basketball coach and fulfill other coaching duties.

President Eric Smith, Vice-President Tiffany Rodriguez, and Secretary Gordon Gentry were at the meeting, as were members Andrew Besa and Mireya Vanderslice.

Members Paul Almendarez and Fernando Garza were absent.

By Marly Davis

Staff Writer