BISD urges parents to complete commitment forms

The Brownsville Independent School District is urging all parents to complete parent commitment forms stating whether they want their children to continue distance learning or return to in-person classes when the second six weeks of classes begins Sept. 28.

The forms are posted on the websites of all 54 BISD schools. The district is required to submit the information to the Texas Education Agency to receive a second four-week waiver allowing it to continue operating on a 100% distance learning basis. The district started classes Aug. 25 under an initial four-week waiver and has submitted an application for a second such waiver, Dora Sauceda, the assistant superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction & Accountability, said.

The form asks parents to commit to either face-to-face instruction or distance learning for the second six weeks of school. Parents are asked to complete a form for each of their children. “Any parent who does not submit a commitment form, BISD will default to face-to-face instruction as the designated instructional mode at their enrolled campus,” the form states.

Sauceda said she met with high school principals Tuesday morning, and they indicated 15% to 20% of parents were choosing in-person learning as their preference. Parents must commit to one model or the other for the full six weeks and cannot change their preference until the next six weeks, she said.

Schools are contacting parents via text, school messenger and by telephone urging them to fill out the forms, and area assistant superintendents are compiling the data in advance of a special-called school board meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday. The agenda includes an action item to extend virtual distance learning for all BISD students and faculty for the entire 2020 fall semester. The meeting is in the BISD board room at 1900 Price Road.

The commitment forms come after BISD has conducted several surveys concerning distance learning and to prepare the district’s reopening manual for the 2020-2021 school year. The surveys addressed how many students needed laptops and tablet computers to be able to do distance learning, and gauged teacher preferences for teaching from home as opposed to from their classrooms.

A total of 11,090 households completed the parent survey, which was conducted from May 19 to June 15, 2020. It shows between 46-48% of parents choosing the traditional classroom model of instruction. The reopening manual is at www.bisd.us/Reopening.html

glong@brownsvilleherald.com