JISD releases COVID-19 closure plans
Jacksboro ISD Superintendent Dwain Milam presented the reasoning for the district’s decision to close schools and the district’s plans to keep lessons and food going out to students during the COVID-19 pandemic to the school board in their meeting Tuesday, March 17.
The superintendent said the district’s initial notification on Friday, March 13, evening stated they were monitoring the COVID-19 situation, but not announcing any closures at the time. He said the district began receiving phone calls from parents expressing concerns and stating they would not send their children to school should it be held.
“We did take those things into consideration on Saturday and we decide that we would close it down,” Milam said. “The primary reason for that is we didn’t know where everyone had traveled to during spring break and what they had been exposed to.”
He said on Monday morning a group of principals, assistant principals, school nurses, campus office staff, the transportation director and food service director met to begin planning.
“Our planning thoughts going into this was let’s hope this thing covers and goes away fast, but let’s plan for the event that it doesn’t,” Milam said. “Our first thought was if we are going to continue any kind of academic instruction, we’re going to have to make sure our teachers have been screened so it is safe for them to come back into the building and put lessons together.”
Teachers were required to answer nine screening questions and then began having staff contact students’ families with the same nine questions plus how they would like to receive meals if needed and lessons.
Milam is also encouraging people to “Do the Five” in general illness prevention: including washing hands often, coughing into the elbow, not touching the face, staying more than three feet apart and staying home if feeling sick.
The superintendent said the district planned on evaluating the closure by a week by week basis. However, on Thursday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the closure of all Texas Schools until April 3.
“During the shutdown, no organized practices or games of any kind will take place on JISD property,” Milam said. “We are also conducting office hours during the shutdown from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.”
He added the district is still receiving STAAR tests despite Abbott announcing the cancellation of the assessment and the district must find a secure place to store them. With the cancelation of the STARR and EOC tests, seniors will be examined by the district’s graduation committee to determine if they are ready to move on.
The superintendent said Child Nutrition Director Craig Adkins and Transportation Director Greg Sanders will organize students which need home delivery and curbside pickup from the survey results.
“We are going to do meal service starting Thursday, March 19,” Milam said. “It just takes a little bit of time to find out who needs and who needs it where and how many meals to prepare.”
He added all meals will be prepared from the middle school kitchen with the kitchen staff from all three campuses.
“We are actually going to run our bus routes starting Thursday,” Milam said. “We are not going to be picking up students like we normally would be doing, but instead we are dropping off meals. A lot of those are in the country that don’t have the ability to drive into town to pick up at the middle school campus, we are going to take it to them.”
He said the plan is for the busses to be loaded at 9:30 a.m. and will include a lunch and dinner of non-perishable food and water.
Curb-side pick-up for meals will also occur at the Jacksboro Middle School from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Fridays.
The superintendent said the plan for lessons is to have staff report on an as needed basis.
“Teaching staff may work in their classroom or from home to prepare lessons,” Milam said.
He said lessons will be prepared on a weekly basis.
“We ask our teaching staff to have lessons ready to be copied by noon on Friday,” the superintendent said. “We will actually deliver those on Monday. If it is someone who lives out in the country and we are doing home service on the meals, we will load those lessons on the same bus.”
The lessons will also be delivered or picked-up by those working the curbside meals for those who are not getting them electronically. Electronic lesson options were still being discussed during the board meeting and included Zoom meetings.
The district will continuously look and adjust their plans according to memos from county, state and federal governments. He added the district is still formulating a plan to get services to their special education students.