The Denton Independent School District is pushing the start of the fall semester out two weeks, to Aug. 26, to ensure safety protocols are in place before face-to-face instruction resumes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The change to the district's academic calendar was approved by a vote of the Board of School Trustees who held a special meeting on Friday.
While the first day of instruction for students is now Wednesday, Aug. 26, two weeks after the originally planned first day of school, teachers will still report to work the week of Aug. 4.
“By pushing the official start date to August 26, we will have our staff on-hand to practice all safety protocols and build even greater expectations for student learning,” said Jamie Wilson, superintendent of schools. “Our staff is very adept at face-to-face instruction, which is what we want more than anything, having a few extra days is essential as we ensure safety protocols are in place for the comfort level of our families and staff.”
The district said in a statement on their website that all teacher workdays are now at the front of the academic calendar and that the last day of instruction is May 27. All holidays remain intact and unchanged.
The district said they recently received the results of two surveys, one for employees and one for parents, and that both indicated more than 70% of respondents wanted "to return to face-to-face instruction with new safety and wellness protocols as recommended by the Texas Education Agency and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)."
The Texas Education Agency released guidelines on July 7 recommending all Texas school districts re-open with face-to-face learning.
Over the last seven days, Denton County has averaged 95 new cases of COVID-19 per day, up from 76 per day at the start of the month. Last Friday, the county reported a record-high 152 new cases.
Through Thursday, there have been 3,697 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Denton County, 38 deaths and 1,322 recoveries. There are currently an estimated 2,337 active cases of the virus in the county.