The balance between safety and normalcy ate up much of Krum ISD’s Wednesday school board meeting.
The meeting was held virtually, with some members tuning in from home. Members present were masked.
Interim Superintendent Mike Davis laid out one of the most concrete plans for campus openings so far, though it was clear plans could change at any moment.
As of Wednesday evening, plans included stricter seating on buses and in schools, as well as more stringent cleaning of buses and campuses.
Davis said parents and older students would be asked to drive family members to school whenever possible to avoid crowding on buses.
Additionally, students likely will be required to wash their hands more frequently.
“We also realized that we’re not going to be able to space kids out 6 feet everywhere,” Davis said. “So [the Texas Education Agency is] recommending that all the students wear masks from 10 years old up.”
In practice, he continued, that would probably mean students would wear masks when transitioning between classes or lunch but not necessarily when in the classroom, provided social distancing is possible.
Davis said he’d spoken with a group of district administrators, and they’d determined students will have to physically attend classes if they want to participate in extracurricular programs.
“If you want to be online, you can’t be on the football team,” Eric Borchardt, school board president, summarized.
Exceptions might exist for career and technical education classes, such as welding, for students studying online who need occasional hands-on practice.
Davis was unwilling to get into the weeds of how mask requirements might be enforced across Krum campuses.
“Is it going to be a disciplinary nightmare? “ Borchardt asked.
“Or is it just going to be an encouragement?” Sue Real, another board member, asked.
Davis said he expected the requirement to be an encouragement, but administrators hadn’t gone into those details yet.
He said he didn’t want to see students harshly disciplined for lapses in mask wearing, but if one student isn’t wearing one, “then nobody’s going to do it, and it doesn’t take long to spread. I don’t know what the answer is to that.”
Board members and he agreed those plans need to be in place before students get back to campuses.
All plans are subject to change as guidance from Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency shifts, but Davis said the district had a possible system to give it some breathing room. Maybe as many as 20 extra minutes would be added to the front end of each school day to help principals get students safely into their classes.
The added time would add extra school days they would be able to use to mitigate potential virus flare-ups if they occur.
Parents will have until July 29 to decide whether their students will be attending classes online or in-person, Davis said, citing a TEA deadline.
Parents will be fairly locked into their decision for the first nine-week period of the year, meaning students can’t easily transition between online and in-person classes.