Devine ISD: Low-performing and absentee students have two weeks to return to campus; district to bring back all students in January

It was announced at the DISD School Board meeting on Monday, Nov 16 that effective Nov 17, remote students who have had over three absences in a one-month period, and those who are scoring below 70% in any class will have two weeks to return to campus unless they file a medical exemption or appeal. Letters are going out this week to the parents of affected students with further information.
In addition to recalling the underperformers, DISD School Board passed (6 in favor, 1 not present) a resolution to bring all students back to campus beginning in January for the Spring 2021 semester. The District is developing a contingency plan using information from the CDC, TEA, County & State health and local medical providers, to assess community transmission/cases and account for best practices through the complete return. If the situation degrades between now and the new year, they are prepared to continue operating as they are today.

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These two moves come in light of the challenges educators and students face in remote learning; The data is clear—remote learners are failing classes at a higher rate than students who are physically in class. DISD Superintendent Todd Grandjean presented the following information to help illustrate the challenges the district is facing with providing education to children: At Devine Intermediate, 62% of students are remote but those students account for 90% of all classes failed (many students are failing multiple). At Devine Middle School, 77 students are failing one or more classes. 56 of these students are remote and of those remote, 35 are failing two or more classes. In Devine High School, 16% of in-person students are failing one or more classes, but that jumps to 42% of remote students. Grandjean had this to say regarding the decision: “Based on what we are seeing with unsuccessful students, in-class in-person instruction is where they will be more successful; not just in state education requirements but also their mental and emotional development.”
When DISD resumed in-person classes in August 2020, only 50-60% of students came back to campus; that number is now around 85% (~1690 out of 1992 total students in the district). Despite the return, there have only been 4 student cases and 3 employee cases to date. This makes for an in-person student case rate of 0.24% over the whole semester thus far.
Parents who receive letters will have the option to keep their children at home if their medical provider completes the TEA High-Risk exemption form, and may request a ‘transition meeting’ through DISD to communicate details with the teacher and parents. There is opportunity to protest/appeal the individual requirement to return.
For the Spring, parents/students have three options if they want to continue remote learning:
1. Obtain a completed TEA High-Risk Assessment
2. Disenroll from DISD and home-school their child
3. Disenroll from DISD and enroll in another district which is still doing remote learning
More information will be included in the form letter which is going out only to affected parents and a complete write-up of the school board meeting will be in next week’s Devine News
By Kyle G. Saathoff
Staff Writer