Education

Temple Independent School District instituted remote learning on March 23 — a learning experience, which continued through May 28.

After gauging feedback from both teachers and parents, Temple ISD understands some instructional gaps have occurred as a result. And administrators have collaborated with each other in recent weeks, looking for ways to recapture this lost instructional time.

“In an effort to recoup instructional time, (Texas Education Agency) presented districts with three calendar options: extend the year well into June of 2021, an intersessional school year, or a complete redesign of the calendar favoring year-round school,” Superintendent Bobby Ott said.

He explained how an intersessional school year would entail extended breaks and a longer school year as well. But Temple ISD did not consider any of three calendar options as viable.

“As a district, we didn’t consider any of TEA’s options to be conducive for working families and we did not feel that two months would be adequate for us to prepare a community for a calendar that they had not seen before,” Ott said.

Although the district evaluated the feasibility of extended days, Joe Palmer, Temple ISD’s assistant superintendent of human resources, stressed how it would be difficult to maintain the attention of both teachers and students past 4 p.m.

“Anything that happens after 4 o’clock, you don’t have a teacher’s attention anymore … or the kids,” Palmer said. “Because basically they’re too tired. If you’re in a classroom with 22 first-graders since 7 o’clock, you do not really want to stick around and go another hour or so. So we just feel like that is a waste.”

Ott echoed Palmer’s thoughts, and also pointed out how many students are actively involved in extracurricular activities or have work after school lets out.

“After discussion with various stakeholders, it was decided that adjusting the calendar while keeping the same start and end dates would be the most efficient and effective way of recapturing instructional time with the least disruptions to a normal school year,” he said.

He said this readjustment will give students’ families the most normalcy and stability.

Temple ISD starts classes on Aug. 19 and ends on May 27, 2021.

The district’s professional development date originally scheduled for Oct. 26 is slated to become a student instructional day. Work day and campus professional development days on Nov. 9; Jan. 5, 2021; Feb. 22, 2021; and April 19, 2021; also will become student instructional days.

This will give Temple ISD a total of 10 days of instructional time above the state required minimum, Ott said.

 “Recapturing these days when teachers are on contract will give us five additional days of instruction in 2020-21 without changing any major component of the calendar,” Ott said. “Our hope is that these changes in the calendar will impact student learning without major changes for our staff.”