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Fort Worth ISD Forward >> District Shares Guidance on Services and Support for 2020-21 School Year

Over the coming weeks, Fort Worth ISD will share more information as we continue to develop and fine-tune plans for the fall, including how in-person and virtual instruction will look like for students. Under the banner of Fort Worth ISD Forward, we will provide answers to the questions you are asking.

Online instruction for the 2020-21 school year will be robust, organized, and a consistent experience for all students.

Here are some standards the Fort Worth ISD will follow regarding virtual learning:

  • Teachers will have planned availability for students – including scheduled office hours.
  • Direct instruction will be delivered by teachers – students will be able to get teacher support when needed, and students will know how and when they can interact with their teachers.
  • Students will receive clear, understandable directions on a daily basis on how to use academic materials.

In-person instruction for the 2020-21 school year will be safe, organized, and an engaging experience for all students.

Here are some standards the Fort Worth ISD will follow regarding in-person learning:

  • Staff and students will follow current face-covering guidance.
  • Position desks according to current recommendations and utilize barriers where appropriate.
  • Increase daily and weekly cleaning and disinfecting protocols.


Below you can read more detailed answers to frequently asked questions. 

Fort Worth ISD Fall 2020 Guidance and FAQ

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the district continues to seek guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Texas Education Agency (TEA), as well as federal, state, and local regulatory entities. The current plan will be updated accordingly as new guidance is published.


General Services and Support


What enrollment options are there for the 2020-2021 school year?  

Consistent with guidance provided by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), FWISD will provide parents with the flexibility to choose between traditional in-person instruction within school buildings or a virtual learning environment (i.e., mixed synchronous and asynchronous instructional model).


How will the virtual environment be different for students this fall?  

This fall will be significantly different than it was this spring when District educators put together a rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Online instruction for the 2020-21 school year will be robust, organized, and a consistent experience for all students.


Will parents be able to change their decision for a student to receive virtual or face-to-face instruction after the year begins?

We are encouraging our parents to choose an option for an entire semester, but we will work with our families at the conclusion of each 6-weeks grading period, if a change is requested.


Will all teachers return to school this fall?

All staff will return to schools in the fall to support both in-person instruction and teacher directed virtual instruction. In order to provide in-person and virtual instruction and to keep students safely distanced while in-person, all staff will need to be active contributors to both instructional delivery platforms. The instruction delivered virtually will be at the same level as instruction delivered in-person. All staff members may need to support classroom instruction. Some may monitor virtual lessons delivered by a certified teacher in a different room in the building.


What kind of professional development is now and/or will be available to teachers who want to learn more about online instruction and the virtual classroom?

Online professional development is currently available to FWISD teachers and more will be added in the next few weeks. The topics cover a wide range of subjects and can be accessed here.

Further, campuses will create professional development calendars with specific supports for educators that will focus on remote instructional delivery, including content-focused, job-embedded training linked to selected remote learning resources. Training will also cover all grade levels and content areas that are part of remote learning. Additional emphasis will be placed on developing content knowledge of the virtual classroom curriculum and helping teachers analyze and respond to data through the use of the instructional materials.


What will traditional in-person instruction look like for students?

Guidance concerning the implementation of in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 school year is forthcoming from the district. FWISD is committed to meeting the unique needs of all students.


What will the virtual learning environment (synchronous and asynchronous) look like for students?  

Lessons and content covered during in-person classes will be the same lessons and content covered during virtual classes. Some courses and lessons will be delivered in real-time with two-way communication between teachers and students through the computer or other electronic devices (synchronous instruction). While other courses and lessons will be designed as a curricular experience where students engage in the learning materials on their own time, interacting intermittently with the teacher via computer or other electronic devices (asynchronous instruction). Each campus and specialized program will be unique on how the instruction is delivered according the personnel resources, appropriate developmental levels of students, and enrollment of students virtually.

FWISD Curriculum Framework will continue to be utilized to facilitate student learning and engagement. The academic work performed by a student who participates in virtual learning will equal the work that is performed by a student in a normal school year. The work will also match –or even exceed – the daily minimums of four hours a day. Students will be provided clear means to engage with academic material on a daily basis. Further, students will be provided with direct and explicit instruction from teachers virtually, as well as be able to access instructional support from teachers. Teacher interactions with students will be predictable and sufficient to support an appropriate instructional schedule. Teacher availability for students (scheduled office hours) will be planned in advance, routine, sufficient for student progress, clearly defined, and published in a readily accessible manner. 


How will attendance be defined for face-to-face and virtual instruction?  

Per Texas Education Code (TEC), §25.092, students must attend 90% of the days a course is offered (with some exceptions) in order to be awarded credit for the course and/or to be promoted to the next grade. This requirement remains in force during the 2020-21 school year. The district will employ multiple methodologies to determine satisfactory attendance for students receiving instruction via virtual learning environment (mixed synchronous and asynchronous instructional model).


How will student engagement in the virtual environment be monitored?

Student engagement will be tracked daily to ensure students are progressing. Academic progress will be measured via daily data collection, teacher/student interactions; and the completion and submission of assignments. Fort Worth ISD will measure the academic progress of all students. The data will be used to continuously improve instruction. Instructors will give feedback to students at least every week. This check-in will tell students what steps to take or what academic remediation is needed to improve their performance.


Will traditional and specialized transportation options still be provided?

Both options will be available. Specialized transportation will be provided as outlined by the student’s most recent IEP.


What guidance has TEA provided concerning the return to school for 2020-2021?

TEA has published multiple documents concerning health and safety. The district is actively monitoring guidance and adjusting policies to ensure a safe return for students and staff accordingly. Recent guidance provided by TEA contains information on four sets of practices that minimize the likelihood of viral spread, including some that are requirements for all schools and others that are recommendations. The practices include the following: Provide Notice (Requirements for parental and public notices), Prevent (Required practices to prevent the virus from entering the school), Respond (Required practices to respond to a lab-confirmed case in the school), and Mitigate (Recommended and required practices to reduce likely spread inside the school.


What happens if a health issue arises in a school?

If a health issue arises in a school, we already have the virtual platform established and students will transition as seamlessly as possible. The District will provide CDC aligned protocol for each campus to follow.


What will be done at the building level to make the environment safe?

Our protocols for cleaning will change -- dramatically. While our custodial staff has always performed exemplary work, they will now have extra resources and help. Their work schedules will shift, as well. Duties that were formerly performed in the late afternoon or evening will now become part of a campus’s daytime routine, and will occur multiple times while students and staff are present.


How will this work be monitored?

FWISD Division of Operations is committed to ensuring our schools are safe, clean and disinfected. The District has an environmental manager who is:

Monitoring CDC guidelines to ensure the District is following the most current recommendations.

Providing additional training to custodians to instruct and reinforce cleaning procedures to effectively address coronavirus.

Adjusting custodial schedules so more of the workforce is available during the day in order to be constantly cleaning and disinfecting when employees and students are in the building.

The District is using an EPA approved disinfectant to kill the coronavirus, which is in compliance or exceeds the CDC guidelines.

  • Custodial staff is cleaning and disinfecting door knobs, handrails, and other highly used surfaces during the day and at the end of each day.
  • Assuring hand sanitizer dispensers are full and operational.
  • Restrooms are being monitored throughout the day to ensure they are clean and are supplied with soap and other necessary supplies.

Presently, the deep summer cleaning of our schools is underway, which includes stripping and waxing floors as well as deep cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

Will students be required to wear face coverings at school?

Yes, schools are required to comply with the governor’s executive order regarding the wearing of masks. In addition to the executive order, school systems may require the use of masks or face shields for adults or students for whom it is developmentally appropriate.


Will the District provide Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)?

Yes. PPE will be made available to each campus and District facility including face coverings, gloves, and equipment required for wellness checks.


Special Education Services and Support


How will students served in a General Education classroom be served if they decide to enroll in virtual learning?  

Students who are eligible to receive Special Education services will continue to receive FAPE if they decide to enroll in FWISD virtual learning. Of note, in many cases, the ARD committee will need to convene to determine the levels of supports to be addressed during virtual learning. Although services may not mirror in-person service delivery, Special Education services will be provided through a combination of synchronous (direct) and asynchronous (indirect) virtual models. Further, students will have access to grade level content while receiving Special Education support and related services identified by the ARD committee. Of note, inclusive practices will continue to be utilized in the virtual learning environment.


How will inclusive practices be integrated into virtual instruction?

FWISD will institute a Collaborative Model of inclusion support to facilitate virtual learning. This model is comprised of multiple teaching modalities offering differentiated support including Parallel Teaching, Station Teaching, and Alternative Teaching.


  • Parallel Teaching: In parallel teaching, two teachers cover the same information; however, the class is divided into different groups and taught simultaneously either in an in-person or virtual environment.
  • Station Teaching: In this co-teaching approach, teachers divide content and students into virtual rooms to provide student engagement and small group instruction. Each teacher then teaches the content to one group and subsequently repeats the instruction for the other group. If appropriate, a third station allows for students an opportunity to work independently.
  • Alternative Teaching: Occasions arise in which several students require specialized attention and academic support. In alternative teaching, one teacher takes responsibility for the larger group while the other works with a smaller group to provide support that is more intensive.


Can students served in a self-contained classroom apply for virtual instruction? 

Yes. The ARD committee, of which the parent is an essential member, will determine the critical skills and supports to be addressed during virtual learning. Although services will not mirror face-to-face service delivery, Special Education services will be provided through synchronous (direct) and asynchronous (indirect) models, which may alter the specialized supports and related services provided. Special Education teachers will continue to provide high-quality instruction and individualized supports.


How will students who receive Special Education services be supported in the virtual learning environment?

During virtual learning, direct services may be supported through video conferences, telephone calls, homework packets, internet-based lessons, and other distance-based learning approaches. Supports provided during virtual learning will be based on the individual needs the student, in the same way supports are determined for a student participating in in-person instruction (i.e., as outlined by the student’s IEP and FIE). District personnel will routinely collect evidence of completion of the aforementioned items/activities, and will implement strategies to support and document general progress monitoring.

Further, students receiving inclusion and resource will have accommodated and modified virtual learning assignments. These will be assigned in collaboration with General Education. Students receiving services within Resource Classrooms will utilize the curriculum framework, including vertically aligned and scaffolded lessons as required using high-quality intensive instruction. Students in Specialized Support Classrooms will be utilizing “Unique Learning System (ULS) and News-2-You (n2y)” which is individualized to their learning. Parents of students who receive SEAS support will be provided with direct access to Rethink Ed's Social and Emotional Learning platform.


How will Special Education related services be provided in the virtual learning environment?

Students receiving related services (e.g., Speech therapy, Occupational therapy, Music therapy, Physical therapy, Psychological services, and Dyslexia services) will have access to these via teletherapy or via other virtual modalities. In some cases, even if a student is enrolled virtually, services may be provided to onsite. Related services for all students will disabilities will occur at the prescribed intervals outlined by the ARD Committee to the greatest extent possible. Additionally, electronic records of service, prior written notice, and parental consent should be completed and kept in established data collection. In the event that services are unable to be provided, prior written notice will be provided. Within the virtual learning environment, consultative services include, but are not limited to: developing materials, consulting with teachers on online implementation, and giving feedback to parents.


What will the grading policy be for Special Education students enrolled in virtual instruction?

Grading policies for remote work will be the same as those that were used for on-campus learning before COVID-19. Special Education students enrolled in virtual instruction will follow all appropriate FWISD school grading policies.


What are the general safety procedures for Special Education students participating in school-based, site-based, and community-based programs? 

When on FWISD Campuses and/or properties, students will adhere to safety precautions set forth by the district to assure the safety of all students and staff. Where corporate or other safety guidelines exceed the minimum standard set forth by the district, the higher operational standard will be met by students and staff when accessing services within the entity. The following provide additional considerations for special circumstances, events and programming for students participating in FWISD Transition Programming and services.


What safety precautions will take place for students participating in Travel Training?

The Trinity Metro Health and Safety policy will be followed at all times. Student to Travel Trainer Teaching Staff ratios will be restricted to a 3 students per trainer. The 3:1 ratio allows for proper social distancing, tighter supervision of students and increased assurance that students are following safety precautions at all times including but not limited to travel on transit systems and when moving about within the community. It is expected that social distancing will be maintained to the extent possible and legally authorized by city transit authorities. While it is understood that while using transit systems, students will be exposed to persons outside of the school community, efforts will be made to select times during the day when ridership is lower than at peak travel times. Summer training will be limited to routes covering the City of Fort Worth with more extension routes covered when COVID-19 rates fall within acceptable limits for the DFW Metroplex. Students and staff will wear masks at all times during travel training. Staff will also carry hand sanitizer for students to use before, during, and after travel training. Proper handwashing procedures will be required following each travel training outing.


What safety precautions will take place for students participating in Community and Site-based Programming?

Safety precautions for students assigned to work-based learning in the community will reflect community standards required to assure safety of the citizenry (face masks, etc.) so long as said standards meet minimum expectations set forth by the district. Staff (district and contracted) will ensure that students practice social distancing, wear masks, and follow safety policies when accessing the Trinity Metro and all other community sites. Staff will ensure students use hand sanitizer before, during, and after traveling to various locations and also follow proper hand washing procedures following each community outing, upon arrival at site, as well as throughout the duration of the scheduled time at the location. Corporate standards may exceed minimum guidelines set forth by the district. Students will be expected to meet the corporate standard when in the work place if the rules at least meet the basic requirements set forth by the district.

What safety precautions will take place for students during transportation to Community-Based/College or University-Based Programs?

Staff will ensure that students follow safety procedures when accessing all forms of transportation to and from college and/or other community-based sites. Students will be required to follow social distancing guidelines to the extent possible and in keeping with FWISD expectations. Guidance offered by the district governing seating arrangements will be followed at all times during transit. Students and staff will wear masks while on the bus. Staff will also ensure that students follow proper handwashing/sanitation procedures upon arrival at the facility and before entering class.

How will Individual Education Plans (IEP) be implemented across different learning environments?

Student IEPs are followed regardless of learning environment such that students with disabilities receive a Free, and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The district will ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability can be provided the Special Education and related services identified in the student's individualized education program (IEP).


How will Admission, Review, and Determination Meetings (ARD) be conducted for students enrolled in the virtual learning environment?

Requirements related to the legal timelines for initial and annual ARD meetings still apply. The ARD Committee may meet by video or teleconference; however, all required members must be in attendance. FWISD evaluation personnel will contact parents to schedule ARD meetings. The parent may choose to participate via video conferencing or telephonically. ARD meetings shall be scheduled at a mutually agreed upon time in collaboration with parents and campus staff including administrator(s) and teachers. The ARD Committee will address all elements of an annual, including Instructional and Related Services.

Service providers will monitor the student to ensure progress on the General Education curriculum as well as on their IEP goals. Additional ARD meetings may be necessary if a student begins to struggle and cannot remediate while participating in virtual learning and/or once the student returns to school to in-person instruction. After review of student progress towards IEP goals and objectives, a discussion for compensatory services may need to be addressed.

How will Special Education evaluations take place for students enrolled in the virtual learning environment? 

Pursuant with guidelines published by TEA, neither state nor federal law provide flexibility to LEAs in times of emergency regarding their obligation to provide FAPE to students receiving Special Education services. Although evaluation timelines pause in situations where the district is closed and not in session, if the district is offering educational services, the 45 school-day timeline requirements of Texas Education Code §29.004 apply. Thus, all initial and reevaluation timelines concerning FIEs remain in effect; this includes requests made pre- and post-closures related to COVID-19.


What if an eligibility determination for Special Education services requires in-person assessment?

If a student is enrolled in the virtual learning environment and an evaluation requires an in-person assessment or observation (34 C.F.R. §300.310(a)), evaluators should collect as much assessment data as possible virtually. Evaluators will then complete the written report with all available assessment data. The report will either indicate that: Sufficient data exists for disability determination(s); or Current data is inconclusive and additional data is required for disability determination(s). Subsequent ARDs related to FIEs must follow legal timelines. In some cases the district may work with the family to determine a mutually agreed upon location to complete a face-to-face evaluation, even if the student is enrolled in the virtual learning environment. 


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