After a flurry of activity by the area’s smaller school districts Wednesday morning, officials with El Paso, Canutillo and Socorro Independent School Districts announced their intentions to submit waivers to the Texas Education Agency to pause any additional in person instruction and to extend remote learning.
Within minutes of each other, district officials announced the moves, with all attesting to “working closely with the El Paso Department of Public Health and other area school districts” to make the decision.
“We understand the continued changes can be unsettling for our employees and families,” Superintendent Juan Cabrera said. “We take the responsibility of caring for the wellbeing of the EPISD family as our main priority. Thank you to all of our employees and families for their patience and flexibility during these difficult times.”
Pending approval from the TEA and Board of Trustees, EPISD will submit a waiver request for continued remote learning through December 2020.
“We are committed to continue serving our community while taking necessary precautions to keep our students, teachers, and staff safe,” said Superintendent Jose Espinoza, Ed.D. “Decisions on reopening schools are made with the guidance of our local public health officials and TEA regulations.”
SISD will submit an additional transition waiver request to the Texas Education Agency to extend the district’s return to school phase-in plan timeframe beyond the previously approved eight week period, which is set to expire October 9, 2020. Pending approval by TEA and the SISD School Board, the waiver would allow the district flexibility to continue providing remote instruction to all students not already receiving instruction on campus through December 2020.
“If the local community health improves to levels established in partnership by the El Paso Department of Public Health and local school districts during this time period, schools will reopen to serve students who wish to return to campus at an earlier date,” SISD officials added.
CISD Superintendent Dr. Pedro Galaviz stated, “From the beginning, we have recognized that the district is confronted by a very fluid and dynamic health crisis. As Dr. Fauci offers, ‘You don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline.’ We must have the agility to make quick changes to our plans in view of the level of community spread at any given time. We make these decisions with the safety of students and staff foremost in mind.”
Pending approval by TEA and the school board, Canutillo ISD will submit an additional transition waiver request to the Texas Education Agency to hold the current number of students receiving in person instruction. If the local community health improves to levels established in partnership with the El Paso Department of Public Health and local school districts during this time period, schools will reopen to serve additional students who wish to return to campus at an earlier date.
Canutillo ISD officials added “Canutillo ISD understands its stakeholders will have many questions and will do its best to answer all in a timely manner. The district asks for continued patience as they work through the details of the next steps. Canutillo ISD will provide updates as information becomes available and as it receives further guidance from TEA and the local health authority.”
All districts pointed out that TEA provided the opportunity for districts to submit a transition waiver extension request to provide flexibility for districts in communities who are experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases/data points.
One specific data point provided by TEA as an indicator that a community is facing a surge is having a 15 percent (or higher) hospitalization rate.
As of October 7, 2020, the percent of total hospitalizations that have COVID-19 in El Paso is 15 percent.
Officials with the three districts added that athletics, fine arts and other UIL activities will continue as scheduled, following UIL guidelines.
For more information visit the district’s individual websites, as listed below. Also included below are each of the district’s releases.