Posted Date: 05/06/2020
Good Afternoon Lion Country,
I would like to extend a thank you to everyone that has stepped up to make the best of the COVID19 situation from the classroom to the home. Our continued partnership and support of each other is crucial to the success of everyone involved when facing these challenges. I appreciate the optimism and perseverance that I have seen throughout this situation as a story of resilience is clearly being born. While this situation is long from over, we can take great pride in our response thus far.
There are a number of updates and information that I would like to share with you:
We have not, nor do we have the intention to change our grading policies or guidelines. The district is delivering instruction by remote learning. The district understands that our students have various challenges that may vary support and access during these times. We are seeing these challenges across our nation. Our students are able to access both low tech and digital versions of our remote learning curriculum. We have stood up numerous locations to allow internet access both in the city and rural areas of our district. Our teachers have been available both by email and teleconference to provide guidance and support. This remote learning is new to everyone, so please know we understand. While this is far from perfect, great effort has been exerted to minimize the instructional impact caused by Covid-19. This teachable moment for all involved is that our students are in control of their attitude and effort. We expect to see our students make a good faith effort in this process, as this will produce positive results. If students do not make an effort and turn no work in, they will be in jeopardy of losing credit for the second semester, not being promoted or not graduating. So please show your teachers your efforts in order to have positive outcomes on your grades.
COVID19 Impact on our Schools
The impact of COVID19 is a “double-headed monster” as students across our state move to remote learning, which is not as effective as face to face instruction. Districts and communities will struggle to fill in these holes created by the loss of one-fourth of these students' instructional opportunities for years to come. Some researchers have projected as many as three years to recover students academically from this event. The second part of this “monster” is the financial impact on schools. Because the state is on a biennium budget, the Board of Trustees sworn in the Fall will face some of the toughest decisions ever presented to public schools as the choices they are forced to make will be extremely difficult. The event of COVID19 crippled the 11-year expansion and the longest cycle in our nation's history this past March. Twenty-six million Americans have lost their jobs. The oil and gas industry, which is ten percent of Texas tax revenue, has been decimated. While we have a largely consumption-based economy, some experts are predicting a twenty percent decrease in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This far outpaces the recession of 2008 when the GDP saw a 4.2% decline. That 4.2% decline affected Livingston by over 7% cut in revenue that we have only recently begun to recover from. The Texas Association of School Board has recommended future preparation budgets planning 5, 10, and 20 percent cuts. While our district is financially sound due to long time conservative financial decisions, it is imperative that we understand the financial impact and our need for advocacy. We are resilient and will get through this by doing the right things and facing those tough decisions with the focus on our students.
The philosophy of our district is not grounded in remote learning or online learning. We have been moving toward a quasi-blended learning approach for several years, but remote learning was conducted out of necessity. I do commend everyone involved as our efforts have revealed us as a leader in this area. The district does not see long-term sustainability from remote learning. The magic that occurs in public school classrooms across our country can never be underestimated. Our profession represents a great equalizer and opportunity creator of our society. We do feel this opportunity has accelerated our growth in a blended school model of learning. While we continue remote learning through May 15th under Governor Abbott’s orders, school and parent communication have never been more important. If students struggle through concepts, please have them contact their teacher. Parents are needed to encourage, monitor, and structure learning time. The parent portal is a vital tool in this process, and if you have needs or questions about it, please contact your child's counseling office. We have a task force that is studying the Covid-19 response to determine the areas that we can build from to make our future stronger.
What will next year look like?
Our district will also comply with federal and state orders, but we are planning on resuming school in August. This past week several state universities announced plans to do the same. We understand that until a vaccine is developed or we reach a point of immunity, the COVID19 is not going away. This is why we have numerous contingency plans in place and are working through the process to change our flu protocols to align with information from CDC involving responses to the COVID19. The district will, in every case, take all feasible precautions to address the prevention of exposure and will detail that information during the Summer of 2020. The health and safety of our students is always a priority for LISD.
Our district has been committed to holding an in-person graduation. These young people and their families have spent thirteen years of hard work to get to this point and deserve more than the virtual or hybrid ceremony. Under guidance provided yesterday from Governor Greg Abbott and Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, Livingston ISD will hold the Livingston High School Class of 2020 graduation ceremony at Lions Stadium on Saturday, May 30th at 9:00 am. Livingston High School Academy Class of 2020 graduation ceremony will be Friday, May 29th, at 7:30 pm. We understand that a graduation at Lion Stadium poses many challenges and difficulties. Still, as with the restrictions placed on this ceremony by the Governor's order, we will make the best of it because our students deserve it. The district will release more information on the specific details of graduation soon, including the number of tickets allocated to each student in order to comply with state guidelines.