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20-21 » Messages from Dr. Whitbeck

Messages from Dr. Whitbeck

January 3, 2021

Dear Bryan ISD Parents/Guardians,

As we prepare to return to school Tuesday, January 5, I want to update you on where we stand in Bryan ISD with COVID-19 cases right now so that you are fully informed. As you know, we asked parents and employees to report any positive cases, symptoms or close contact over the break and assigned staff have been keeping track.

Active COVID-19 Cases as of 1/3/21:

  • Employee cases: 36 
  • Student cases: 15 

COVID-19 Cases Since August 20:

  • Employee cases: 236
  • Student cases: 342

Keep in mind, this is out of more than 18,400 students and employees in Bryan ISD. If we continue to work as a team, we are confident we can keep our children in school learning with their teachers.

To help keep our cases low as we enter the Spring Semester, please keep the following in mind:

  • Screen your children before they come to school each day.
  • If your child feels sick or has a fever, please keep them at home.
  • If you have a positive COVID-19 case in your household, please keep your child at home.
  • Please encourage your child to wash their hands with soap often.
  • Please encourage your child to maintain social distancing of at least six feet while at school as much as possible, or while in public.
  • Please make sure your child has a mask and their own water bottle each day when they leave for school.

Thank you for keeping these recommendations in mind. For your convenience, I’m again attaching a daily checklist you can download and put in a handy place for you to look at each morning.  

If you need to report a positive COVID-19 case, close contact, or symptoms, please use the email for your child’s campus found at www.bryanisd.org/covidreporting.

We’re excited to have your child back in school on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, either on-campus or at-home, and we will continue to keep you informed.


Best Wishes for a Safe and Happy New Year,

Dr. Christie Whitbeck

Bryan ISD Superintendent

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Dear Bryan ISD Parents/Guardians,

There is a slight change in how Bryan ISD will report COVID-19 cases. When a positive COVID-19 case is identified at your child’s school, you will only receive an email and not a corresponding phone call. If your child is determined to be in “close contact” with the COVID-19 case, we will still call you directly.

As we head into the break, I’d like to update you on our COVID-19 case numbers since school began on August 20.

COVID Cases Since August 20, 2020

Total Population

Total Cases

Percentage of Cases

18,704 

  • Employees 2,842
  • Students 15,862

456

  • Employees 167
  • Students 289

2.44%


As we look to the second semester, we know more students will return to campus. As a District, we’ll have around 81% of students learning on-campus.  At the elementary level, 90% of students will be on-campus. With more students back in class, it will continue to be critical for us to follow our Return to Learn plan, which has worked, and if followed, will continue to.  That includes wearing masks, social distancing both in and out of school, and hygiene practices like students bringing their own water bottles and washing their hands often.  You have played a key role in ensuring our students took these steps while in school in the first semester, and we are grateful.

But, much like I said before Thanksgiving break, we don’t control what happens outside of our buildings.  So, once again, I’m asking you to exercise caution over the break and during Christmas and New Year’s Eve and Day. During the break, if you or your child have symptoms, please self-quarantine, and if you or your child test positive, please let your campus principal know through your school’s COVID reporting email address, found at www.bryanisd.org/covidreporting.

We are required by the Texas Education Agency to continue updating our COVID numbers during the break, even though we are not in school.  My goal is for school to start as planned on January 5th. Should you need to quarantine, we are ready to deploy a device to any student who would need one to continue learning seamlessly from home.

Thank you again for all you did over the last semester to ensure our students are successful, even as we work through these challenges. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday and the true gift of family.

With Sincere Gratitude,

Dr. Christie Whitbeck

Bryan ISD Superintendent

Dear Bryan ISD Parents/Guardians,

Bryan ISD will begin following new Brazos County Health District guidelines regarding the quarantine period for people coming into close contact with a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case.

The new guidelines are as follows:

  • The quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.

  • When testing resources are sufficient and available, then quarantine can end after Day 7 with a negative test result, and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. Testing should occur 5-7 days after exposure. 

These changes are only for people in close contact with a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case and go into effect immediately. Employees and parents of students currently in quarantine for close contact will be notified individually if this changes their quarantine status.  Everyone entering a Bryan ISD campus or building must continue to self-monitor for symptoms, wear a mask, and social distance.

We are making this change only after consulting with the Brazos County Health District, which works with both the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and being assured by these organizations this is in the best interest of the health of students and employees.

This update for the quarantine period for close contact is now reflected in the Bryan ISD Return to Learn Plan available at www.bryanisd.org/returntolearn.

Dear Bryan ISD Parents/Guardians,
 

I hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving and a restful weekend. 

As we prepare to return to school tomorrow and for the next three weeks I want to update you on where we stand in Bryan ISD with COVID-19 cases right now so that you are fully informed. As you know, we asked parents and employees to report any positive cases with our students over the holiday and assigned staff have been keeping track.

Active COVID-19 Cases:

  • Employee cases: 14 
  • Student cases: 19 
 

COVID-19 Cases Since August 20:

  • Employee cases: 123
  • Student cases: 189
 

Keep in mind, this is out of more than 18,400 students and employees in Bryan ISD. If we continue to work as a team, we are confident we can keep our children in school learning with their teachers.

To help keep our cases low over the next three weeks, please keep the following in mind:

  • Screen your children before they come to school each day.
  • If your child feels sick or has a fever, please keep them at home.
  • If you have a positive COVID-19 case in your household, please keep your child at home.
  • Please encourage your child to wash their hands with soap often.
  • Please encourage your child to maintain social distancing of at least six feet while at school or in public.
  • Please make sure your child has a mask and their own water bottle each day when they leave for school.
 

Thank you for keeping these in mind. If you need to report a positive COVID-19 case, close contact, or symptoms, please use the email for your child’s campus found at www.bryanisd.org/covidreporting.

We’re excited to have your child back in school tomorrow, either on-campus or at-home, and we will continue to keep you informed.


Sincerely,

Dr. Christie Whitbeck

Bryan ISD Superintendent

Dear Bryan ISD Parents/Guardians,

Often during the toughest times, we have moments when we realize how much we have to be thankful for in our lives.  Gratitude has been on my mind a lot over the last few weeks.   Not just because it is our Essential 8 character trait for November, but because as we continue to sort our way through the pandemic, I’m touched by the incredible efforts I see from our parents, teachers, staff, and community to make sure our children still receive a great education.  It hasn’t been easy, but it’s still happening, and that is a testament to you and how much you care about your child.

I’m thankful as well that so many of our students are back on campus, too (about 80% secondary and 86% elementary).  As partners in the education of our children, I want to be transparent about where we are regarding COVID-19 so everyone has accurate information. While the cases have been increasing locally and in the district, please remember that our district population is over 18,000 people.  Please take a look at our numbers since school began on August 20, 2020.

 

COVID Cases Since August 20, 2020

Total Population

Total Cases

Percentage of Cases

18,698 

  • Employees 2,818
  • Students 15,880

239

  • Employees 97
  • Students 142

1.28%


 

As you can see, only a little over one percent of our school district has tested positive for COVID-19 since August 20.  I’m thankful for all the students who are wearing their masks, keeping their distance, and practicing good hygiene. It is not perfect, but overall they are doing a great job at all campuses. That, along with all our personal protective equipment (PPE) like sneeze guards and constant disinfecting, is keeping the virus from spreading greatly inside of our schools.  Simply put, we’ve followed our Return to Learn plan, and it has worked to lessen the spread of the virus

However, we don’t control what happens outside of our buildings.  That is where we’ve seen the greatest increase in cases, and that concerns me heading into our Fall Break.  We want to keep our schools open and keep our students and teachers in school. So, here’s my request to you.  Please exercise caution over the Fall Break and Thanksgiving holiday. During the week if you or your child have symptoms, please self-quarantine, and if you or your child test positive, please let your campus principal know through their email.

We will continue to monitor the situation case by case, class by class, and campus by campus. We will continue to follow our Return to Learn plan regarding sending individuals or classrooms to quarantine, if needed. We have worked very hard to be proactive should any potential quarantine or closure occur. Our Board of Trustees approved additional purchases for technology and we now have enough devices to deploy to each student in grades 5-12 who needs one and we have devices in our schools that could be distributed to elementary students, if needed.  

We are looking forward to the break, and then returning to school on Monday, November 30.  If we all do our part next week to make sure our cases don’t spike it will really help.  Once again, thank you for everything you’ve done since last March to ensure our students are still learning.  

With Sincere Gratitude,


Dr. Christie Whitbeck

Bryan ISD Superintendent

Dear Bryan ISD Parents/Guardians,

As we wrap up our first two days of school, I want to take a minute to say thank you. Overall, it has been a great start to the school year and you are a large reason why.  Thank you for reading through all of the messages you received from your child’s school so you knew what to expect on the first day.  I know it was different for many of you, not walking your child to class, but instead sending them off into school with a mask and a water bottle.  For others, I know it was different getting your child logged into Schoology, and in many cases, online live with their teacher and class. Thank you for sending your child wearing a mask and for emphasizing the importance of their health and the health of their teachers and staff. As a result, we had almost no issues and kids were respectful, cooperative and excited to be at school.  It was different, but we did it, and it set the school year off on the right note.

Now, that isn’t to say we didn’t have some hiccups.  We did. Thank you for your patience as we worked through some login and password questions regarding Schoology and technology.  Thank you for your patience as lessons are being uploaded, and our teachers work through finding the on-campus/at-home balance. We all worked very hard to be ready for the start of school, but as we navigate this we will have to make adjustments, and as we’ll have patience and grace as students adjust, we ask for that in return.  

Just because the situation is different, that does not mean the mission has changed.  We are committed to our students and committed to an excellent, well-rounded education no matter where they are learning.  For us, working with children is our passion, and seeing their smiling, excited eyes throughout the day is the greatest reward. 

It’s going to be a wonderful school year, and together, we will work through the challenges we face, because we have a common goal in mind.  With honest and open communication, we can address the challenges and come out stronger. Thank you for working with us, and we’ll see your child in school, whether on-campus or at-home, ready to go on Monday.

Sincerely,

Dr. Christie Whitbeck

Bryan ISD Superintendent

Dear Bryan ISD Parents and Guardians,


After listening to feedback from you, our teachers, staff, administrators, and local health officials, the Bryan ISD Board of Trustees today approved changes to the 2020-2021 school calendar.  


Here are the primary changes:

  • The first day of school is now Thursday, August 20 to give teachers more time to prepare their classrooms.
  • We will have an early release on most Wednesdays to allow for a midweek additional, thorough cleaning of our schools in addition to daily cleaning.
  • We are considering switching to a block schedule format in grades 7-12 to reduce the number of times students change classrooms. (You will receive more information from your principal if you have a secondary student).

The times for early release will be:

  • High School: 12:50 p.m.
  • Middle School: 12:55 p.m.
  • Intermediate School: 2:20 p.m.
  • Elementary School: 2:10 p.m.

We’ve staggered the early release times like this so if you have older children, they can be home first to help take care of elementary students.  AlphaBest will also offer after school care for students on early release days following Bryan ISD health guidelines. If you haven’t yet, please click here to review our Return to Learn Plan including our Frequently Asked Questions for more information about everything Byran ISD is doing to keep our campuses healthy. If you’d like to switch how your child will learn the first six weeks (on-campus, at-home, hybrid grades 7-12) please call your child’s campus or email BISD_enrollment@bryanisd.org through Thursday, August 6.


It is not going to be a normal year, but we are committed to providing a safe environment so that children can learn face-to-face or online.  As we get our students in school, whether at-home or on-campus, and they meet their teacher, and get comfortable with their schedule, I believe it will feel more normal than you expect. A lot has been continually changing and we will continue to monitor COVID-19 in our local area and adjust if needed. We are working to move out of ambiguity and into action and our team will remain dedicated to assisting you and your children.


Respectfully,

Dr. Christie Whitbeck

Bryan ISD Superintendent

Dear Bryan ISD Parents, Guardians, and Staff,

 

The Return to Learn Plan for 2020-2021 Draft document outlines the plans for Bryan ISD as we move

forward with opening school. As a reminder, parents have been able to select from face-to-face

on-campus, online learning at-home, and a hybrid allowing students in grades 7-12 to report to the

campus for designated courses requiring specialized instruction.

 

This document reflects the teamwork of many talented central office leaders, principals, teachers and

other district employees as they have worked to monitor current requirements incorporating them with

best practices to the fullest extent possible. Please understand that guidance has been changing daily

and that this will remain a fluid document. Much like a strong classroom teacher who must continually

monitor and adjust his/her teaching, we, too, must make changes as we go along. There has been no

roadmap or guidebook for handling the pandemic, especially for how to begin a new year when

children and teachers are not established in their routines.

 

I can assure you that Bryan ISD is committed to creating safe environments for our students and staff.

Our Board of Trustees and all employees are in this profession because we believe in serving and

making a positive difference. Regardless of the uncharted waters ahead, we will roll up our sleeves,

remain calm, adjust as needed, all while serving as strong role models for our children.

 

Please use this plan to understand the details related to your child’s education and let us know if you

have questions that are not answered.

 

When difficult things happen, it is good to know you are in them with amazing people.

 

Most Sincerely,

Dr. Christie Whitbeck

Bryan ISD Superintendent

Dear Bryan ISD Parents/Guardians,

I hope that you and your family have been safe and healthy and have found some time to enjoy family despite the unusual circumstances. The beginning of the new school year is just under 40 days away, and I know our community is eager to learn more about our plans for the fall semester.


In my previous updates, I mentioned that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) would be providing long-awaited guidance to school districts on the requirements and protocols for hosting in-person classes. Unfortunately, due to the rapidly changing circumstances from COVID-19, that promised guidance from the TEA did not arrive until Tuesday, July 7, so our staff has been busy working to incorporate the requirements into our Return to Learn 20-21 Plan.


After reviewing the first parent survey, our Bryan ISD Team began working to draft multiple scenarios for instruction. Now is the time for you to make the selection that you feel is best for you, your child, and your family.


You can choose from three options: 

  • At-Home Learning (online)
  • On-Campus Learning (face-to-face in the classroom)
  • Hybrid model (online and face-to-face for grades 7-12)

Regardless of which learning option you choose for your child, the expectations for coursework and the grading system will be the same for both in-person and at-home learning. We believe this is the fairest and most equitable solution for all of our students. Applicable high school credit courses in 7th-12th grades will be included in calculating GPA and class rank for both in-person and online learning students. Students learning online will engage in daily activities that combine teacher-led instruction along with independent learning. A student’s schedule may reflect short periods of synchronous learning scheduled throughout the day followed by time for independent, asynchronous learning activities. 


For our students who choose to attend face-to-face in-person classes, Bryan ISD will follow all applicable guidelines and protocols from the state in place at the time. We will place more signs around campuses promoting safe health practices, increase cleaning and sanitation, and frequently remind students about hand hygiene and social distancing. Face coverings will be recommended or required depending on state guidelines at the time. We will comply with all health safety recommendations established by the health department and the Texas Education Agency, and all staff members will receive COVID-19 prevention training prior to the opening of school. 


Beginning the week of July 13, you will receive an email from Bryan ISD to complete the online returning student registration forms.  Part of this important process will be 

asking you to make an initial commitment for your child(ren) to choose either on-campus or at-home learning for the first six weeks for the 2020-21 school year. The email will come from BISD_enrollment@bryanisd.org. In order for Bryan ISD to finalize staffing requirements, we are asking that this commitment be made no later than 8:00 a.m. on Monday, August 3, 2020, which is the final day for you to change your decision. For those who do not complete the online registration verification, your child will be automatically enrolled in on-campus face-to-face instruction. Your child’s schedule and teacher assignments cannot be finalized until we receive your commitment, so please consider completing the form as soon as possible. Students will be expected to remain in their chosen option through at least a six-week grading period in order to limit scheduling and staffing complexities. If you don’t receive the email regarding the online returning student registration, then please call 979-209-1288 or email BISD_enrollment@bryanisd.org.


We understand that circumstances could change for our families throughout the year so adjustments and changes in preference can be made each six weeks by contacting your school.


We have posted more information about the Bryan ISD Return to Learn 2020-21 plan, along with frequently asked questions at www.bryanisd.org/returntolearn


We will continue to share new information and updates with you as the summer progresses. It is clear that COVID-19 has changed our world in so many ways, and I continue to appreciate your support and understanding as we work through these trying times. Together, we will remain committed to supporting each and every student on their learning journey.


Please continue to stay safe and enjoy the rest of your summer.

Sincerely,
Dr. Christie Whitbeck

Superintendent