Due to the continued rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in El Paso County, and in consultation with the City of El Paso’s Department of Public Health, three of the area’s largest ISD have extended their fall intersessions.
Within minutes of each other, officials with EPISD, SISD, and Canutillo ISD announced Wednesday afternoon of their decision to extend the intersession, with work and instruction resuming on October 26th.
“While the break for students and teachers has been extended, it is imperative that we all double down in our efforts to curb the rise of COVID-19 cases in El Paso County,” Superintendent Juan Cabrera said. “Let’s all do our part so that we can reopen schools safely.”
EPISD Administration has submitted a waiver to the Texas Education Agency allowing for the continuation of remote learning until health conditions improve. The waiver is subject to approval by the TEA and EPISD Board of Trustees.
“We were very deliberate in planning for this school year so that we would have the ability to adjust as necessary while staying in line with the very specific guidance and directives from the Texas Education Agency,” said Superintendent Jose Espinoza, Ed.D. “These decisions are not taken lightly as we know they may result in potential inconveniences for our community; however, the record numbers we are seeing today are such that we must extend our intersession break in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community during this alarming spike in cases.”
On October 9, 2020 SISD submitted a request for a data-driven transition waiver that would allow the district flexibility to transition students and employees safely back to school using COVID-19 parameters as a guide. As of the morning of Wednesday, October 14, 2020, the district has not received formal approval of its waiver request.
“We are anxious to open our schools to all our students who wish to return to their campus for in-person instruction,” Espinoza said. “We will continue to follow the guidance of our local health authorities and abide by TEA requirements to protect our stakeholders while we plan for the safe return of our students and employees. Our responsibility is to Keep SISD Safe but also to ensure we are able to sustain services and minimize any potential adverse impact on our community.”
For Canutillo ISD, students, teachers and some campus staff currently on the intersessional fall break this week are now scheduled to return to their learning method on Monday, October 26. Northwest Early College High School will continue with remote learning next week as it is on a different calendar. All other staff will remain on their previously approved work calendars and work remotely when possible.
“When we built our school calendar, we kept flexible options to handle the rapidly changing environment,” Canutillo ISD Superintendent Dr. Pedro Galaviz said. “Right now, everyone in the community must listen to the advice of our local health leaders. Stay home, wear masks in public if you must go out, wash your hands and disinfect surfaces as often as possible. We must all do our part to reduce the spread of infection in our community.”
All three districts touted the built-in flexible school calendar that allows the extended week of fall intersession to be exchanged for the spring intersession days.
For EPISD, the March break will be amended to one week only: March 15-19. For Canutillo ISD and SISD, the extended week of intersession on October 19-23, is to be exchanged for the spring intersession, March 8-12, 2021.
Meal schedules for each district will be modified and posted on their respective webpages.
As with all COVID-19 plans, the districts stressed that “details may be subject to change pending the state of our local community health and new guidance issued by national, state, and local authorities as the district progresses through the school year.”
High school athletics, fine arts and other UIL activities will continue as scheduled following UIL guidelines. However in CISD, all middle-school athletics are suspended through October 25.