• May 30, 2020

ECISD starts remote school, UIL suspends activities - Odessa American: Education

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ECISD starts remote school, UIL suspends activities

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Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 2:21 pm

Ector County ISD had its first day of remote school this week and some disappointing news for those involved in extracurricular activities.

The University Interscholastic League, which sanctions everything from athletics to music and theater, has announced that announced that all contests, practices, rehearsals and workouts will remain suspended until further notice, Superintendent Scott Muri said in a phone interview.

“It’s incredibly disappointing,” Muri said. “We’ve seen that all across the professional sports associations. We’ve seen that across the NCAA. Now it’s going to hit our athletes and musicians and actors and actresses and all of those that participate in UIL sports. It’s going to hit all of them pretty hard because we have some pretty talented kids in our system that love to showcase their talents.”

Many of those students use their talents to continue to the college level, Muri said Monday. At this time, the earliest games and contests may resume is May 4, a news release on the UIL website said.

“… I really commend our coaches — whether they’re athletic coaches or directors. Our band directors and others have really been engaged with their student athletes and musicians, artists, etc.,” he added.

Muri said the coaches and directors have provided some “really good guidance and support for students.

“We’ve had a lot of online and virtual practices and rehearsals that have taken place and our coaches and teachers are really taking the best advantage they can of this opportunity,” Muri added.

Virtual learning has been around for a while and there are youngsters and people at all levels using it.

“Our opportunity is to make sure that we get to that place. It’s really difficult now. We’re not equipped for it in many areas, but we have to quickly ramp up to make sure that we’re providing these opportunities for kids,” Muri said. “It is going to be challenging work, challenging for our teachers and leaders, but also challenging for our parents. We recognize that and want to make sure that we’re providing support. It’s a journey that we’ll be taking, and every single day will be a little bit better than the day before.”

On the remote learning front, Muri said that started Monday with 34,000 students and 4,200 employees.

“… We got some really good feedback (Monday) from parents and from kids — everything from thank you for putting this together in such a short period of time and people complimentary of the work and are glad that the kids are engaged to challenges with some of the digital resources some of the links and things like that,” he said.

“Then the workload. Some of our parents expressed concern over the volume of work, while others in the same scenario were thankful for the work. … A message that I want to send to all of our families (is) we’re on this journey together. Tomorrow will be better than today and Wednesday will be better than Tuesday and we will continue to improve the work and the resources that we provide to our families and we’ll continue to improve the support that we provide for them,” Muri said.

“Our teachers have been really busy reaching out to our kids and families to make sure that they’re engaged, so we feel very confident about our start today, but recognize that this is a work in progress for all of us. We’re taking on new and different roles in this situation …,” he added.

There will be no State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test, this year, under Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive. But teachers are monitoring their students’ progress and checking in with them, Muri said.

“What we are working on is what will that look like for us. We do have to ensure that the learning process continues. We have to show that our kids continue to grow, how we will measure that, those are decisions that we are working on right now. Student work, for instance, we are monitoring the work that our students are doing at home and then collecting that. A teacher can see growth over time,” Muri said.

“… Our teachers will be working with principals and central office staff to figure out, if you will, over time how we will assess the growth of our kids. But today, we’ve got to make sure that every child continues to learn at home,” he added. “That’s why this is such a huge undertaking. That’s important.”

“… The job of a teacher right now is to remain in contact with our kids and families. … Our teachers, one of their responsibilities is to make sure that they are remaining engaged with kids. (We have) teachers conducting virtual lessons; teachers creating videos of themselves and broadcasting those to their students. … Many of our teachers are leveraging the power of technology to engage with their kids. We have teachers that are making phone calls. In fact, we did that on Thursday and Friday (of last week). We wanted to ensure that every child, every family in ECISD was connected to a teacher in that two-day period of time,” Muri said.

Food service is continuing. Some 17,194 breakfasts and lunches were distributed Monday, according to the ECISD School Nutrition Department website.

That will continue five days a week, but on Friday, “we’re giving our kids breakfast and lunch for the weekend, so Friday for lunch they actually pick up Saturday’s meals and Sunday’s meals …,” Muri said.

Goldsmith Community Center, 310 Avenue H in Goldsmith, is a new meal site for ECISD.

“We’re looking at other locations, as well, to maybe serve some of our kids that don’t have the ability to drive or walk to some of our current feeding sites. We just want to make sure that we’re not missing any kids and so we’re continuing to explore those other options,” Muri said.

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