Abilene ISD Board discusses COVID-19 protocols at last meeting before start of school

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – Trustees of the AISD school board listened to the current status of COVID-19 protocols at their meeting Monday night. Evaluating what tools they have ahead of the first day of school less than two weeks away.

Dr. Gustavo Villanueva, associate superintendent for leadership and student services, presented the district’s current plan. In accordance with Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order, the district cannot mandate masks on its campuses, something trustees say they’ll follow. The district will not do as deep of contact tracing as it did last year, but Dr. Villanueva did say they will keep tabs on activity pending an outbreak.

AISD will not provide remote learning this semester, or at least that is the plan for now. Current legislation does not allow districts to count remote learners toward their “average daily attendance” which funds their schools. Because of this, AISD maintains it cannot offer the service which allows students to learn away from campus.

Board members are trusting that parents and students will do their parts to avoid spreading COVID by wearing masks.

The meeting’s cheery tone at its start diminished over the course of the evening, most notably when STAAR test results were presented. The drop in grades blamed on the pandemic and learning loss.

Dr. Ketta Garduno, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, presented the results. She says all levels from Grades 3-8 tested lower than the previous STAAR administered in 2019. Eighth graders were especially affected and math was the worst performing subject.

A bright spot for the test results was seen at the high school level said Dr. Garduno. Some subjects tested even better than in 2019, particularly in English and History.

Trustees were disheartened by the overall results and the complicated tutoring process the associate superintendent presented as well.

When thinking about learning loss, no remote learning for students, and no infrastructure to support students who may be quarantined at home; trustees became somewhat sullen. AISD Board President, Daryl Zeller verbalizing his feelings during the discussion.

“It’s kind of a sobering conversation to have this right after we just saw what our learning loss is but we have just got to push through,” said Zeller.

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