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Top 10 things Falcons can look forward to in 2020-21

Our 2020-21 school year is almost here, and we want to make sure you have everything you need to know to get the school year off right! To do that, we've compiled a top-10 list of things to know and look forward to for the coming school year.

It's a lot of information, but chances are you already know most of it. If that's the case, glance at the titles to see if there's anything you missed, and if so, read the information accompanying that topic.

Be on the lookout for an email next week that will walk you through the first days of the school year, whether your child will be learning at school or virtually.

1. Start of the School Year
Lake Dallas ISD will begin our return to school on Wednesday, Aug. 26, with a hybrid virtual start for the first nine days of the school year. For most students, this will mean using our Virtual Learning platform for the first nine days. For families who need in-person support, schools will have small classes. 

Small classes will include students who lack internet access, students of families who lack childcare and students with special needs who require in-person support. These small classes were determined based on the information submitted by parents and guardians. Families can also contact a school’s front office or administration team if they need to clarify their in-person needs.

Important Early Dates

  • Aug. 26: Hybrid Virtual Start 
  • Sept. 7: District Holiday
  • Sept. 8: Learning Environment Choice Start
  • Oct. 23: End of First Grading Period

Please expect additional communication next week regarding all you need to know for first days of school! This communication will include information for both those in small classes at school and those in Virtual Learning.

2. Your Choice of Learning Environment
Each student’s parent or guardian has chosen the learning environment for the student. Students can either learn in the traditional, In-Person Learning environment at schools, or they can use Virtual Learning, which provides classes online. Virtual Learning is further segmented into Virtual+ Learning at the middle and high school levels for certain courses, which allows students to travel to schools only to attend classes that they cannot take part in online.

  • In-Person Learning: The traditional learning environment, taking place on school campuses. Those learning at school must follow health and safety practices seen at www.ldisd.net/welcomeback.
  • Virtual Learning: Learning taking place online, mirroring the traditional experience as closely as possible. While all core courses are available online, some classes may be unavailable in Virtual Learning, such as if they use specialized equipment. See a list of face-to-face courses at this link.
  • Virtual+ Learning: The Virtual Learning option (for middle and high school students only), with the additional ability of a student to attend any course on campus if it cannot feasibly be completed online. Families of students in the Virtual+ environment must provide their own transportation for these courses.

A parent or guardian can change the learning environment of a child by notifying the campus two weeks prior to the conclusion of a grading period, with the change taking place at the beginning of the new grading period.  The family could change their child from In-Person Learning to Virtual Learning, for instance, or vice versa. 

3. Online Learning Systems

For our hybrid virtual start and those using the Virtual Learning environment, students will have a consistent system to use to access their class or classes. At the elementary level, teachers and students will use Seesaw, while secondary teachers and students will use Canvas. These systems are easy to navigate and will have a shared interface among all classes for ease of use. More information on these systems will be provided next week!

4. Face Coverings Are Mandatory

All students and staff members, as well as anyone 2 or older on a Lake Dallas ISD campus or facility, must wear a face covering in our effort to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19. This mirrors the CDC’s recommendation for wearing face coverings. Face coverings have also been mandated across the state by the governor through an executive order that applies to schools.

Every Lake Dallas ISD student, teacher and staff member will receive a Falcon-themed pull-up gaiter from the school district. If students prefer to wear their own face covering, they may do so as long as it covers the nose and mouth and is school appropriate (no inappropriate text, imagery or brands).

5. The Same Activities, but with Social Distancing

For in-person learners, activities at school – such as athletics, fine arts, recess and more – will all remain, but they will look a bit different. Whenever possible, our schools will try to keep six feet of space between students and other individuals. We know that this will not always be possible, and it may not be possible during most times given class sizes and limited space. This is why the use of face coverings is important, so we can eliminate or greatly lessen potential ways for COVID-19 to spread.

6. Hand Sanitization Stations

Our district operations team has installed hand sanitization stations at various locations in every campus. These stations are touch free and activated by motion. Students, staff and any other individuals are encouraged to frequently wash their hands and use hand sanitizer for best health practices.

7. Extracurricular Events Continuing as Planned, with Modifications

Our UIL activities – including academics, athletics and fine arts – will all continue as planned! To combat the potential spread of COVID-19, however, the UIL has implemented some safeguards. For event attendees, this includes a 50 percent capacity restriction at venues such as Falcon Stadium or a school gym, as well as limiting group seating to 10 people. To meet the 50 percent capacity guideline, some rows of seating will be blocked off.

8. Positive Test Response

If someone on a Lake Dallas ISD campus tests positive for COVID-19, he or she cannot return to campus for at least 10 days after symptoms first appear. To return, this person must meet the following requirements:

  • 10 days must have passed since symptoms first appeared
  • One day (24 hours) must have passed since recovery (the resolution of fever without any fever-reducing medications)
  • Improvement must be shown for symptoms

If a classmate tests positive, Lake Dallas ISD will investigate the case and determine which students and/or staff members need to isolate on a case-by-case basis. Various factors will determine those who need to isolate, such as interactions with the individual, the duration of interactions, whether face coverings were worn, a class seating chart and other criteria.

When a case of COVID-19 is verified by a positive test, families of all students and staff at the school will be notified via letter of the result. Additionally, any students or staff who had close contact with the individual will be notified via separate letter of the requirement to quarantine. At no point will any personally identifying information about the individual who tested positive be shared.

Lake Dallas ISD will continue to rely on the expert opinions of the Denton County Public Health Department to make the best decisions for our students, staff and community. Our district will rely on the county and other governing bodies for health-related decisions, as these entities oversee health mandates and recommendations.

Additional information about a positive test response can be found on the district’s 2020-21 Plans & Procedures page under the “COVID-19 Positive Test Response” section.

9. Visitor-Free Campuses

While we know families and loved ones often enjoy visiting campuses, such as attending a lunch with a young child, visitors will be limited to the front office area of the school this year to keep potential virus exposure points minimized as much as possible. Please know this is not a long-term procedure, and we are eager to allow family members and loved ones back on campus when the pandemic is resolved.

10. This is a Changing Situation

Please know that while we wish we could definitively tell you nothing will change with our plans, we unfortunately know the ongoing pandemic makes that impossible. Lake Dallas ISD – as well as other school districts – constantly receives new guidance from local, state and federal agencies that could change our plans at some point. If that happens, we will always let families know as soon as we can. This is a constantly changing situation, and it’s a challenging environment for everyone – students, parents, teachers and staff alike.

For more information, visit www.ldisd.net/welcomeback!