As City/County Health officials issued an updated order for all independent school districts and private schools in El Paso County for the reopening of on-campus instruction, delaying the start of in person classes until after September 7th, local school districts have been quick to respond.
The order essentially halts all in person classes until after Labor Day, however does make note that virtual classes will be allowed per the individual school district’s plan.
Below are the statements/releases from the area’s school districts. This story will be updated as statements are released.
Virtual instruction for all Fabens ISD students will begin on Aug. 10
On July 9, 2020, Public Health officials issued an updated order for the reopening of on-campus instruction. The updated order limits face-to-face instruction and requires school buildings to remain closed to non-essential personnel until at least Sept. 8.
Fabens ISD will begin remote instruction on August 10, 2020 in accordance with the calendar that was adopted by the Board of Trustees. The first four weeks of school will be conducted virtually for all students.
Fabens ISD has ordered laptops for all students, Pre-K through 12th grade to ensure vibrant, connected virtual instruction for all students. Due to high demand, some technology device shipments have been delayed for several districts.
Our deepest thanks go out to Canutillo ISD for providing laptops to districts, including Fabens ISD, to ensure devices are available for the start of school. We will resume with on-campus instruction for families who choose this option on Sept. 8, or once local health authorities deem it safe to do so.
We will continue to follow the guidance and directives from health and government authorities to ensure we are doing our
part to reduce the rate of infection and subsequent risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Parents were sent a survey to select their preference of virtual or traditional (on-campus) instruction. Parents should still proceed with choosing an option as soon as possible in order to facilitate planning for campuses. The survey can be found at https://www.fabensisd.net/Domain/704.
Due to city’s recent public health order and in the best interest of health and safety for our students and teachers, the Canutillo Independent School District will begin school two weeks later than previously announced. Remote learning instruction will commence on Monday, August 17 instead of August 3.
The first three weeks of classes will consist of 100% remote learning. Then, starting Tuesday, September 8, parents may choose between on-campus instructional settings and remote instruction.
Superintendent Dr. Pedro Galaviz says that the well-being of Canutillo’s students, parents, and staff will always be the driving determinant of decisions. And, the District’s actions will continue to be based on local, state and federal education and health authority guidance.
“We have had to be flexible in terms of our planning for a return to school, and, COVID-19 is once again affecting the schedule in the greater El Paso region,” Galaviz said. “With a substantial increase in rates of infection in this area, we are having to change the date for the first day of school.”
Parents were sent a survey listing the instructional options that will be offered once campuses are open. The options include remote learning; hybrid schedules (combination of remote learning and in-person); and daily face to face. Parents should still proceed with choosing an option as soon as possible in order to facilitate planning for campuses. The survey can be found via this link.
The city’s order also states:
All children with special healthcare needs which are considered medically fragile should not return to school until the 2021-2022 school year.
Students, teachers and staff age 2 years and older should wear face coverings, unless medically contraindicated or if this may pose a risk to the student, teachers, and staff.
Please note, that this plan is subject to change depending on future guidance from local, state and federal education and health authority.
Due to the city’s recent public health order and in the best interest of health and safety for students and teachers, the Ysleta Independent School District will delay the start of classes for the 2020-21 school year until Monday, Aug. 17, at which point all students will begin at least three weeks of online learning at home.
“Please be assured we made this decision for the well-being of our teachers and students in order to ensure an excellent academic experience for every child,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Xavier De La Torre.
“We are continuing to finalize plans for the new school year, and over the next few weeks, our parents will continue to have the opportunity to select either face-to-face instruction or online learning for their child for the upcoming school year,” Dr. De La Torre added.
The delayed school start date will prompt two changes to Ysleta ISD’s new year-round calendar, officials said.
The first change affects the two-week break – or intersession – for students in October. Originally scheduled for Oct. 5-16, the break will now be reduced by one week and take place only from Oct. 12-16. That means classes WILL be in session from Oct. 5-9 for both online and face-to-face instruction.
In addition, Ysleta ISD will add one week to the end of the school year, and the last day of school is now Friday, June 11, 2021.
Currently, the district is continuing to provide professional development to teachers in the areas of technology and content in order to equip them with the tools to provide a quality online experience. Ysleta ISD is also enhancing its technology support to ensure all student devices are ready for online instruction, and continuing to make safety its No.1 priority by aligning safety and health protocols with state public health recommendations.
Ysleta ISD parents are being asked to reach out to the district to confirm whether their child will either return to campus for face-to-face Classroom Learning, or participate in Online Learning at home. Parents can do so by calling (915) 434-0280 and taking a brief, three-question survey.
Parents who do not complete the survey will be contacted by their child’s school over the next few weeks to confirm their choice. For more information, parents are encouraged to submit questions through the “Ask The District” tab on the main webpage at www.yisd.net.
IDEA Public Schools El Paso
IDEA Public Schools will be following the City of El Paso and State guidance regarding school opening recommendations. All IDEA campuses in El Paso will begin classes on Monday, August 17 with all students participating in distance learning until Monday, September 7.
Beginning Tuesday, September 8, parents will have the option to send their children to school, continue distance learning or switch back and forth as needed. On campus start date is subject to change based on guidance from local and state authorities.
For the upcoming school year, IDEA Public Schools will provide personal technology devices, including computers or tablets, to all scholars enrolled at IDEA campuses.
One-to-one personal technology creates opportunities to meet the needs of every student with an intentional focus on structure and rigor to keep all scholars on track regardless of where the learning itself is taking place. Technology allows for uninterrupted learning, regardless of possible restrictions placed on in-person schooling.
The program also allows schools to extend the learning window, create new opportunities and learning models for students, and boost the home to school connection.
The City of El Paso Department of Public Health released new orders limiting face-to-face instruction and requiring school buildings to remain closed to non-essential personnel until at least Sept. 8.
EPISD also will delay the first day of instruction to Aug. 17. The first three weeks of school will be conducted virtually for all students.
We will resume with the phased-in approach to the return to campuses on Sept. 8, or once local health authorities deem it safe to do so.
“EPISD is committed to our mission to serve as a strong community partner,” Superintendent Juan Cabrera said. “We have worked closely with the County and City of El Paso to ensure the health and wellbeing of our students, staff and community. We will to continue to work together for the safety of our community.”
EPISD staff and teachers will continue to work remotely until school buildings are opened. Last week, parents were sent a survey listing the three instructional models that will be offered once campuses are open. The options include continued virtual; staggered schedules (combination virtual and in-person); and daily face to face for certain groups. Parents should still proceed with choosing
an option as soon as possible in order to facilitate planning for campuses. The survey can be found at episd.org/reopeningplan
The city’s order also states:
•All children with special healthcare needs which are considered medically fragile should not return to
school until the 2021-2022 school year.
•Students, teachers, and staff age 2 years and older should wear face coverings, unless medically
contraindicated or if this may pose a risk to the student, teachers, and staff.
It is my hope that our community is safe and well. When our district previously released our reopening plans for the 2020-21 school year, we emphasized to our community that all plans were subject to change pending guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as well as local health and government officials. We’d like to update our community on the new developments.
Guidance from Texas Education Agency
TEA has released new guidance to school districts, and I am very proud to report that the Socorro Independent School District is in compliance with the learning models outlined by Commissioner Mike Morath on July 7, 2020. TEA is requiring that all students have the option to receive five day in-person instruction, but parents should be allowed to choose the At-Home (Remote) Learning Model if they don’t feel comfortable with the Traditional Learning Model. Via our Parent Scheduling Survey, we offered SISD students the option to learn all five days from school or from home.
Also, due to TEA guidance, the Hybrid Learning Model is only available to students in PreK through 2nd grade. If you haven’t filled
out our Parent Scheduling Survey, please do so by the end of today.
Additionally, the TEA Commissioner is providing all school districts in Texas with a three-week transition period similar to our SISD model in which we start the school year with three weeks of full remote instruction to provide our teachers and employees adequate time and space to adjust to the strenuous safety protocols and new way of teaching.
Guidance from Local Health & Government Authorities
As all of you may know, there has been an alarming spike in Covid-19 cases not only across our El Paso County but also across the country.
I agree wholeheartedly with the order by El Paso City-County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza with the support of both County Judge Ricardo Samaniego and Mayor Dee Margo that would prohibit any in-person classes by local school districts until after Labor Day in September.
Therefore, we have made a proactive decision to update our school calendar for the 2020-21 school year, which will meet guidelines issued by both TEA and El Paso health and government authorities. The adjusted calendar will still provide additional flexibility that will allow us to close our district or schools due to potential positive COVID-19 cases as necessary.
It is important to note that the new first day of school for students in the Socorro Independent School District will be on August 17, 2020. Teachers’ first day back to work will be August 3, 2020. We will continue with our plan to begin the school year with full remote instruction only for the first three weeks of school as authorized by TEA.
In-person instruction will begin on September 8, 2020 as directed by El Paso City-County health and government authorities.
Due to the pandemic continuing to get worse with record-breaking cases being reported daily in the El Paso community, we urge our families to do their part in preventing the spread of Covid-19 by practicing social distancing, staying home when possible, wearing their masks, and washing their hands frequently. Socorro ISD desperately needs our community’s help to go “Back to School SAFELY!”
I understand that our SISD stakeholders may have many questions and concerns, but I continue to ask for your patience, understanding, cooperation, and flexibility as our team works through the many issues that must be addressed for the new school year. We are still in uncharted waters; however, I know that together as Team SISD we will figure out the best and safest ways to navigate another challenging school year.
As with all Back to School plans, 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 we approach the first day of school.
Rest assured that we will continue to update you as we finalize plans and move forward with the best interest in mind for our students and staff. We continue to consult regularly with local health and government officials, TEA, and seek additional guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure that our procedures and protocols reflect the optimal ways to operate and “Keep Team SISD Safe.”
Please continue to check our #TeamSISD Back to School SAFELY webpage (www.sisd.net/backtoschool) as well as our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts frequently for updates and answers to questions you may have.
Our TOP priority remains the physical and emotional well-being of our students, employees, and families. I am grateful for the collaboration and unity that I continue to witness in our outstanding community. By working together, we will launch a safe and successful 2020-21 school year.
I greatly appreciate your continued support and trust in Team SISD. Stay healthy and stay strong. God bless all of our families.
José Espinoza, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Some local officials also added their voices to the discussion, the following is a statement from State Senator Jose Rodriguez:
Earlier this week, the president said he would use every means possible to force schools to re-open, regardless of the situation with COVID-19. Unfortunately, the situation in Texas is deteriorating rapidly, with the governor warning of significant increases in fatalities. Despite record-breaking numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in recent weeks, the Texas Education Agency is pushing local school districts to start instruction next month.
Parents and teachers are concerned that we are moving too quickly during a high-risk period and without sufficient planning. I share those concerns.We must be guided by the best science-based information available, not the politics of the president or some state leaders. Teachers and support staff must be given options that allow them to work without putting themselves or their families at risk.
I applaud the El Paso Public Health Department for issuing an order prohibiting in-person school openings until Sept. 7. This is a prudent move for our community’s health and safety.
On Tuesday, San Elizario ISD officials announced that their Board of Trustees has earned the team certificate for completing the Lone Star Governance Workshop.
The LSG Governance Workshop is a two-day training where all Board of Trustees in collaboration with the Superintendent engaged in identifying adult behaviors that need to change in order to improve student outcomes.
“Since the Board of Trustees accepted the invitation to become a member of the Inaugural LSG Exemplar Cohort in October of 2018, through a needs assessment process, they have worked tirelessly to identify district goals that focus on improving mathematics, reading, and college and career military readiness,” officials shared via a web post. “In addition, they have committed to continue increasing the time spent on goal progress monitoring every month to include quarterly self-evaluations.”
Training and guidance from ESC Region 19 Lone Star Governance Coach, Monica Jaloma, also provided in depth perspective and personal reflection with additional support from TEA Deputy Commissioner, AJ Crabill. He states, “student outcomes don’t change until adult behaviors change.”
Officials added that the Board’s focus on goal progress monitoring has demonstrated “positive gains,” as the district’s latest accountability rating of a B with an 86 is a 3-point gain from last year.
The distinction of earning the team certificate also commemorates the journey of Trustees to identify the vision and values of students, faculty, staff, and community by engaging in campus and community meetings and establishing a two-way communication.
Current Board Trustees recognize the contributions of previous trustees whose participation assisted in making the necessary gains throughout the LSG framework: Mr. Ramon Holguin, Mr. Antonio Araujo, Mr. Armando Martinez, Mr. Ramon Rojas, and Staff Sergeant Norman B. Harrison.
In a weekly state poll of 4A Coaches, the San Elizario Eagles made their mark, with the team ranked 22nd out of 189 4A teams.
This distinct honor is something Coach David Desrosiers welcomes as he continues to have the Lady Eagles ranked.
The San Elizario High School Volleyball team is led by team captains senior Maryann Torres who says, “This team is special because of each player’s individual commitment to the team has elevated the overall team’s ability to achieve” and junior Desiree Morales who agrees “Our team’s unity is our strength. Our teamwork and collaboration are allowing us to achieve more as a team than any of us could achieve on our individual talent.” Both girls have played varsity since they were freshmen.
Coach Desrosiers began coaching in 2002 through 2008 in San Elizario and then held the varsity coaching position at Horizon from 2008 – 2015 and retuned to San Elizario in 2015.
“This is one of the best teams I have ever had the pleasure of coaching. The girls are awesome to work with. The opportunity to coach at San Elizario with the support we receive from both the campus and district administration promotes success,” Desrosiers said.
Coach added that he is “proud the team is not only experiencing success on the court, but also being recognized by the American Volleyball Coaches Association for their Outstanding Academic Performance in classroom.”
Other members and playing positions of the Lady Eagles include seniors: 21 – Maryann Torres (Librero); 5 – Destiny Loya (Defensive Specialist); 12 – Joselyn Reyes (Setter); 14 – Nayeli Ochoa (Outside Hitter); 15 – Camila Contreras (Middle Blocker) and juniors 1 – Maryanne Tapia (Setter); 4 – Desiree Morales (Outside Hitter); 6 – Anissa Chairez (Opposite) and sophomores 3 – Victoria Perez (Opposite); 7 – Brianna Montero (Defensive Specialist); 10 – Victoria Lopez (Defensive Specialist); 11 – Arlette Becerra (Middle Blocker) with the help of Manager Miguel Rodriguez, a junior.
Most recently, the members of the Varsity volleyball team ranked 10th in the El Paso area by the El Paso Times on August 28th and continue to be ranked 10th the week of September 4th.
A total of 220 third graders from San Elizario ISD’s elementary schools received a free dictionary courtesy of Kirk Robison, Chairman of Pizza Properties, Inc. and owner and operator of El Paso’s Peter Piper Pizza restaurants.
For over a decade, Robison has donated dictionaries to third grade students from across the El Paso County. It is an annual tradition he enjoys doing each year.
“The distribution of dictionaries to students is one more component to the Partner in Education program that Peter Piper Pizza is proud to do for El Paso area kids,” Robison said.
“Peter Piper Pizza’s Partner in Education program is designed to help educators help our kids reach their dreams and the dictionaries are one more way we hope to make a difference in a child’s education.”
Alarcon Elementary Assistant Principal, Leticia De Santos, said the dictionaries will certainly come in handy for third graders.
“These dictionaries are a valuable tool that will help students in their studies both in the classroom and at home,” De Santos said.
“They will also help students enrich their vocabulary skills. We are always very appreciative of Mr. Robison’s donation year after year,” she added.
Stepping into a classroom and teaching for the very first time can be quite nerve-wracking for most new teachers, but thanks to San Elizario Independent School District’s (SEISD) new program that may be a thing of the past.
With SEISD’s ‘First Year Teacher Academy,’ teachers can flourish and grow in their profession using several techniques.
The goal is to increase teacher effectiveness and higher teacher retention. First year teachers are provided with ongoing professional development throughout the year from the instructional team as well as a seasoned campus mentor.
“The life of a first year teacher can be overwhelming because they learn everything from curriculum to Human Resources to technology,” said Debbie Cortez, Instructional Officer at SEISD.
“Participating in a solid induction program, such as the First Year Teacher Academy, can make the transition a bit easier and provide our teachers with the time and support to succeed,” Cortez added.
The First Year Teacher Academy helps new teachers receive professional development in areas such as Classroom Management, Behavior, Stress Management, Rituals & Routines, and getting ready for the first day.
“I am glad SEISD has this Academy for new teachers because it is definitely helpful and beneficial,” said Daniel Morrow, Science teacher at San Elizario High School.
“It has taught me to include various activities and games to keep students engaged and always learning. I have grown so much as a person and as a teacher because of this Academy.”
The scholarship fund, established in 2017, will award a total of $20,000 in scholarships over the next 8 years to help students cover tuition or other costs associated with attending and completing college.
“I’m excited about the opportunities that CREEED is creating for our students to support their pursuit of a college degree,” said Sylvia Hopp, a former San Elizario ISD Superintendent. “During my time as an educator and administrator, I was constantly moved by the dreams and potential of our students and it’s important to have community advocates like CREEED who are providing the resources students need to succeed. Ms. Jasso is an exemplary student who has shown tremendous personal growth during her four years at San Elizario High School and is committed to making her dreams a reality.”
The scholarship fund builds on CREEED’s existing efforts to support El Paso students build the skills and knowledge they need to graduate college and career ready, including the launch of Girls Who Code chapters in El Paso, creating the ACT El Paso scholarship fund to expand the number of teachers who are credentialed to offer dual-credit courses in high school, and providing local school district and higher education institutions with grants to implement innovative initiatives.
“I’m very proud to have been chosen as the first recipient of the scholarship,” said Angelica Jasso who plans to study nursing at The University of Texas at El Paso. “I’m also grateful to organizations like CREEED who make an effort to support my dreams and offer financial help so I can reach my goals.”
Angelica is an accomplished student participating in many extra curricular activities including National Honor Society and the San Elizario campus improvement committee as well as varsity track and field, soccer, and cross country.
She is also an active volunteer for the Special Olympics and San Elizario’s special education department.
“The ultimate goal of the scholarship is to support and encourage students to strive for academic excellence beyond high school and obtain a post-secondary degree within 6 years of their enrollment,” said Eduardo “Eddie” Rodriguez, CREEED’s Executive Director. “In addition to preparing students to obtain a college degree or certificate, we need to provide them with the resources they need to obtain that degree. We are excited about the future college graduates that will benefit from the Sylvia Hopp San Elizario College Scholarship Fund.”
San Elizario ISD held its 2018 Teacher & Employee of the Year Awards Ceremony to honor six teachers and six employees nominated by their campuses for district-wide honors for their outstanding performance and commitment throughout the school year.
Sandra Tinajero from Sambrano Elementary was chosen as the Elementary Teacher of the Year, Andrew Avila from San Elizario High School was selected as the Secondary Teacher of the Year, and Luz Estela Martinez was named District Employee of the Year.
Tinajero has been teaching at Sambrano Elementary for the past three years. She is grateful to be working at the school that received her with open arms when she was a child; she is proud to be from the San Elizario community.
Avila has a total of five years working at San Elizario High School. He had the privilege to work with the Algebra One team, in which they collectively endeavored to earn the Academic Achievement in Mathematics State Accountability Distinction from T.E.A. in 2017.
Martinez has been working for the district as a bus monitor for the past four years. She has a great connection with district faculty and staff, but what she loves most about her job is the children. She believes that working with children is her true calling.
Presenting the winners with their awards the night of the banquet were San Elizario ISD Board President, Irene D. Jaquez; Board Trustee Sandra Licon; Board Trustee, Becky Romero, Board Trustee, Armando Martinez; Associate Superintendent, Ruben Cervantes; and Superintendent, Dr. Jeannie Meza-Chavez.
Both Tinajero and Avila will advance to the Region 19 Teacher of the Year , where they will represent San Elizario ISD this summer.
The winners were announced Friday evening, May 4th, at the Wyndham El Paso Airport Hotel.
Five San Elizario ISD (SEISD) Middle School Students are among 40 semi-finalists who participated in the 2018 Do the Write Thing Challenge.
Evelyn Trejo, Arlette Esparza, Darlene Silva, Marcos Argumedo, and Dailyn Velez are among the 40 semi-finalists selected from over 7,000 students.
SEISD officials said, “They demonstrated important critical thinking abilities, creativity, and most importantly, their essays offered important solutions to the issue of violence.”
The Do the Write Thing Challenge gives middle school students an opportunity to examine the impact of youth violence on their lives. Through classroom discussions and writings, students communicate what they think should be done to reduce youth violence.
They also make personal commitments to do something about this problem.
A recognition event honoring all student finalists will be held on Saturday, April 28th, at UTEP’s Union Cinema and two students will be announced as the National finalists.
The National finalists, a parent, and a teacher will be awarded with an expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. where they will attend the National Do the Write Thing Leadership activities.
Students and staff from Garcia-Enriquez Middle School (GEMS) in San Elizario have a new reason to celebrate as the doors to their new, state-of-the-art Cafetorium are now open.
The idea of remodeling and expanding the middle school’s Cafetorium was first discussed in 2006 during the TEA IFA funding allotment preceding. San Elizario ISD was awarded enough to money to only cover the middle school’s new library and classroom wing.
When the 2104 Bond was passed, the Cafetorium’s need for a face-lift was placed at the top of the list. The project included the complete renovation of the cafeteria, with an expansion of the kitchen.
The project floor plan increased the square footage from 9,000 square feet to 12,200 square feet with the ability to accommodate around 350 students.
The new Cafetorium comes with a snack bar, a stage with lighting, and sound-control booth.
The middle school’s original Cafetorium was built in 1986 for the sharing of meal services between San Elizario High School and the middle school.
It’s another year in the history books, as 2017 fades and 2018 dawns.
From the streets of downtown, to the football fields of the schools around town, to the houses of worship throughout the Borderland and locations in between, our photographers were busy documenting our story.
Below are the best shots from our team of photographers: Chief Photographer Andres Acosta, and Kevin Venegas.
San Elizario Independent School District Superintendent Sylvia Hopp has been selected as a state finalist for the annual Superintendent of the Year award sponsored by the Texas Association of School Boards. Hopp is one of five finalists for the state award and is representing Region 19.
On August 22, the Education Service Center (ESC) Region 19 recognized Superintendent Hopp at its annual Teacher of the Year Awards Gala. Dr. Armando Aguirre, Executive Director for ESC Region 19 introduced Hopp on stage and presented her with an award in front of hundreds of educators from throughout El Paso and Hudspeth counties.
“I wish to thank the Region 19 Board of Directors and Dr. Aguirre for their continued support not only for myself but for all area superintendents. Together we can make a great impact for all students in Region 19,” Hopp stated.
Hopp has 35 years of experience in education administration and has been at the helm of San Elizario ISD for three years serving approximately 3,800 students.
Of note to the selection committee were San Elizario ISD’s English as a second language programs to bring parents into the schools, outreach efforts through home visits, and initiatives to build cooperative relationships with city leadership.
Hopp earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Texas at El Paso. She serves on the Commissioner’s Superintendents Cabinet, and is active in the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), Texas Association of Mid-Size Schools, Texas Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, and Far West Texas School Boards Association, among others.
The five 2015 finalists were then chosen based on their responses on issues as business engagement, teacher retention, diversity of the state’s student population, philosophy, educational leadership, challenges facing local school districts, and advocacy on behalf of public education.
The 2015 Superintendent of the Year will be announced October 3 at the TASA/TASB Convention in Austin where the winning superintendent will receive an award from program underwriter Balfour.