Natalia ISD Town Hall meeting covers back-to-school questions

Natalia ISD administration hosted a Town Hall meeting on July 23 to review the district’s Operational & Instructional Plan and address the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, set to begin on Monday, August 24.
Remote learning for all students will be in place the first two weeks of schools, through Friday, September 4.
“We’ll begin remotely so that we can work out the kinks for everyone, and then we will begin to phase into on-campus instruction for those who choose on-campus instruction,” Interim Superintendent Dr. Lana Collavo said.
On the third week of school, Sept. 7-11, fifty percent of the students who opted for in-person instruction will return to campus. The fourth week, Sept. 14-18, will see the transition of 100 percent of in-person students back on campus.
Parents will be able to choose whether their students learn remotely or in person, and may switch between the two options at the beginning of each 9-week grading period. Attendance requirements are the same across the board.
“We are required under the Texas Education Code to enforce attendance requirements for public education,” Collavo said. “In other words, we will have the same attendance requirements for remote learners as we do for on-campus learners.”
Learning management systems Seesaw (Pre-K through 1st) and Schoology (3rd-12th) will be used to log in for attendance, to attend class, and to submit assignments. The district has also purchased swivel cameras, which will track teachers’ movements throughout a classroom so distance learners’ experience is closer to that of in-person students.

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Every NISD student will be provided with either a tablet (Pre-K through 1st) or Chromebook (2nd through 12th) regardless of whether they are remote or on-campus learners. The devices will be issued to parents and students on Wednesday, August 19 and Thursday, August 20 from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the elementary school, junior high, and high school. Wi-Fi hotspots for those who require them will also be checked out at this time. Parents and students must sign a technology contract in order to check out the devices.
“Students will need the Chromebook every day at school or during the virtual classes,” NJHS Principal Dr. Edgar Camacho said. “So make sure that it’s always charged and that it’s ready to go.”
Ear buds with a microphone are also required, and Camacho said that Natalia ISD devices must be used at all times.
“Non-Natalia ISD electronic devices will not be supported by the technology department,” Camacho said. “Natalia ISD will monitor the use of all our devices. When the students log on to the computers, they do go through our servers, and so we monitor.”
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Leticia Buenrostro, Executive Director of Academic Services, said Special Education students will be supported based on how their plan was projected through an ARD or 504 meeting.
“Those meetings are going to continue to be held,” Buenrostro said. “We’ll continue to provide the accommodations and modifications throughout the school day, whether it’s in person or virtual.”
All students will be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities, including sports, whether they are on-campus or distance learners. NISD is not providing transportation to distance learners who participate in extracurricular activities.
The Operational & Instructional Plan can be viewed in its entirety on the district’s website at Additional questions have also been addressed in a Return to School FAQ section on the site.
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer