Sundown ISD Family,

I hope this message finds each and everyone of you doing well.  My desire is that you are spending your summer with loved ones and staying safe as we progress through this difficult time.  

Earlier in the week, Texas Education Agency released new guidance with regards to on-campus instruction.  While there are still many questions yet to be answered, we would like to share with you the information we do have.  While the start of the school year (August 18) is just around the corner,  we all realize how much can change in five weeks.  Below is a summary of the information TEA has communicated to school districts:

  1. Schools must provide on-site learning.  Even with an outbreak, schools may only close for up to 5 days for cleaning then resume on-site learning barring a closure order from state officials.  

  2. Schools are subject to the executive order made by Governor Abbott concerning masks, meaning anyone age ten or above in schools residing in a county with more than 20 active COVID-19 cases should wear masks or face coverings.  This could change, but this is what we know today.  

  3. Schools that choose to offer remote learning will have significantly more accountability restraints with regards to attendance, funding and learning design.

  4. Students that choose remote learning must participate, show daily progress, pass the course and be in attendance 90% of the time the class is offered to receive credit.

  5. At this time, TEA has made it clear that STAAR tests will be in effect, and schools will receive accountability ratings.

Sundown ISD has determined the following:

  1. Parents will have the choice to receive on-site or remote learning for their children.

  2. Parents that choose the remote learning option will be required to stay remote for at least one grading period (six-weeks).  

  3. To help our staff with planning, we will be sending out a simple survey in the near future (look for it toward the end of next week) with your choice of in-person or remote learning for your child/ren.  Until then, Sundown ISD will continue to develop safety plans for in-person instruction and plans for remote instruction.  Our goal is to provide quality instruction for all ages regardless of the method of delivery.  

  4. Sundown ISD will encourage social distancing throughout the day to the extent that it is feasible. 

  5. Sundown ISD will remain committed to cleaning procedures to sanitize our facilities and equipment.  SISD will continue to partner with GermBlast for scheduled and response treatments.  Additional custodial personnel will be added. Responsible hygiene practices will be reinforced with our students.  Hand sanitizing stations will be at multiple locations on each campus.

A critical component of high-achieving school districts is good parental involvement and support.  I am extremely proud of everything we have and will accomplish together in order to prepare our children for success.  As we speak, our network and computer devices are being upgraded/replaced to make sure our students and staff have access to the most current technology available.  Due to the fact that there will always be a need for broadband connectivity in this highly technical world we live in, we hope that you will look for ways to ensure internet access into your homes.  

As we approach the new school year, please know that there are aspects of the safe reopening of Sundown ISD that are beyond our control and seem to change on a daily basis.  The Sundown ISD leadership team has been grappling with the multi-dimensional complexities of reopening our school in a system that serves approximately 700 students and staff.  Although it may not fit everyone during this health-crisis, on-site, in-person learning is our most effective model for instruction.  

Although these circumstances are not ideal, it is our goal to remain proactive and positive.  Sundown ISD will remain a committed partner in adhering to guidance provided by state leaders in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.  We want our school and community to thrive and for us to remain open.  It is imperative that we remain considerate of each other and our differing opinions, limitations, and needs.  

I understand the last several months may have left you feeling frustrated or uncertain.  This is new territory for all of us.  We cannot thank you enough for your continued grace, patience, and consideration as we balance state requirements with the needs of our local students.  Together, we will get through this! 

See you soon!

Scott Marshall