By Gaige Davila
Point Isabel Independent School District (PI-ISD) phased more students back into its campuses as COVID-19 cases continue rising across the state, in their “Phase 3” plan.
PI-ISD’s school board voted to continue transitioning students through a Texas Education Agency (TEA) waiver on Oct. 20 during a regular school board meeting.
This upcoming week, the district is inviting “12 or more” additional students to physically attend classes, according to PI-ISD’s Return to School plan.
PI-ISD anticipates 301 students attending classes on campus across the districts’ four campuses by Oct. 26, then 361 by Nov. 2.
By Nov. 16, all students, 647 total, are anticipated to return to PI-ISD’s campuses. However, students are not required to return to campuses, the plan states, and can continue attending classes online.
Initially, PI-ISD students who were having internet issues were asked to return to campus. This past Monday, Oct. 19, students failing or not attending courses were told to return to campus.
During the Oct. 20 school board meeting, district staff presented how PI-ISD is preparing for its students’ return.
PI-ISD has purchased $118,325.81 in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and decals, including 20 handwashing stations, 239 single-handle metering faucets, 81 automatic wall-mounted soap dispensers, 1 towel dispensers, 145 air ionization filtration systems, 200 KN95 masks. health-related office supplies, 620 lanyards, 12 wall thermometers, 400 gowns, 20 cases of gloves, 2500 adult face shields, 400 child face shields, 2000 adult face masks, 1000 child face masks and 520 decals advising social distancing and mask wearing.
PI-ISD has added 150 Verizon hotspots and 150 iPads for students who are continuing their schooling from home. In total, PI-ISD has spent $148,546 for 300 hotspots, 47 laptops for teachers and 150 Apple iPads for students. Sonia Harry, during the Oct. 20 school board meeting, said all students who have opted to attend classes online have internet access and devices.
Port Isabel and Laguna Vista matched the TEA’s “bulk order reimbursement,” or funding for electronic devices purchased by the district, with $5,750. The City of South Padre Island did not respond to requests from PI-ISD to match funds, according to Bilingual/Technology Director Sonia Harry.
Over 78,000 meals were served between Aug. 24 and Oct. 16, with 55% to 60% of PI-ISD enrolled students receiving meals from the district’s meal program, double that of the meals served by surrounding school districts, according to the Region One Education Service Center.
PI-ISD is now serving breakfast and lunch bundles to all children under 18-years-old.
“We are taking it four weeks at a time,” Capistran said during the Oct. 20 meeting, responding to board member Cecilia Castillo’s question of the district’s post-Thanksgiving plans. “I know it’s difficult and we all want to know what’s going to happen a month from now. But we have to be watching what is happening with our county.”
COVID-19 hospitalizations, cases and deaths will ultimately guide what PI-ISD’s plans are, Capistran said, with guidance from Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo.
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