Superintendents talk extended closure
District superintendents from Jacksboro and Bryson took time to speak about their plans after Governor Greg Abbott announced he was extending school closures through May 4 due to COVID-19.
Jacksboro ISD superintendent Dwain Milam said the district had begun preparing for extended closures after President Donald Trump extended social distancing guidelines through April 30 on Monday, March 29.
“We totally understand his (Abbot’s) decision, but we miss our students,” Milam said. “We were watching the press conference, there were three or four of us in the room watching that, and that was the feeling we all had ‘hey, we get it. We understand.’”
The superintendent said the district will continue to feed students through their curb-side pickup and delivery bus routes while focusing on perfecting distance education.
“We have been preparing for the long haul since the very beginning and thats what we shared with all of our staff,” Milam said. “We don’t know how long this thing is going to go, but let’s prepare for the long haul and hope for a quick resolution.”
Despite school scheduled to release for the summer on May 21, Milam said he hopes the district can get the students back in classrooms even if for just two weeks.
“We haven’t made a final decision yet, we have a little bit of time to prepare and plan,” he said. “Personally, I stated earlier we miss our students and as soon we can safely, from a health perspective, bring them back in we want to do that. But, we haven’t made a final decision as to what that would look like just yet.”
The JISD superintendent said the district is preparing for events scheduled after May 4 to still be held, but they are also preparing contingency plans for those events including graduation.
“What we don’t know, is he (Abbott) may give us the you guys can all go back, but we’re still going to keep the restriction of you can’t have more than x number of people in a room together,” Milam said. “So, those things are pieces that we just don’t know. It’s hard to plan a graduation if we don’t know how many people can be in a building at a time. So, we are working through a lot of different contingencies.”
Bryson ISD superintendent Greg London echoed a lot of Milam’s thoughts regarding Abbott’s decision to extend the closure.
“We trust that he (Abbott) has our best interests in mind as our governor,” London said, “TEA (Texas Education Agency) has done a great job of facilitating and giving guidance on how to proceed through this learning from home approach.”
The superintendent said in meetings with other Texas superintendents there has been discussions about only bringing just the senior class back. However, he does not want that to be the case for Bryson ISD should they be allowed to return for the final two weeks of classes.
“I feel like the best thing for our families would be that if we could our kids back in school for any amount of time before summer break. It would beneficial to both the kids and our families,” London said.
The superintendent said the district is going to do the best they can to have a graduation ceremony, but they are still unsure of what the potential ceremony could look like.