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EPISD to open learning pods, keep most students home

Reopening Safety Chart

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT -- Nov. 3, 2020) — EPISD will open learning pods at all campuses on Monday, Nov. 9, for students that have been identified as having a priority need, following a state mandate that districts reopen schools during the pandemic.

District schools must reopen per state mandate despite the El Paso County stay-at-home order issued last week.  

“We greatly appreciate our teachers, staff and Board of Trustees for their commitment to our students over the last eight months. We look forward to having our students and staff back on campus, but we want to do it when it is safe and secure,” said Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera. “We know people are nervous about coming back into our schools, and we want everyone to know we have spent a lot of time and energy making our campuses safe and appropriate for learning during these uncertain times.”

EPISD requested a waiver to continue full remote instruction through December due to the rising number of reported COVID-19 infections in the city. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) granted the District permission to provide remote instruction only for an additional two weeks through Friday, Nov. 6.

Under the new plan developed in collaboration with other districts in Region 19, schools will reopen for a limited capacity of students in certain priority populations. TEA approved criteria based solely on COVID-19-related hospitalization rates in the county (Chart is attached). Currently, El Paso is under the highest level of hospitalization rates (Red Zone). Therefore, learning pods will begin on Nov. 9, with limited capacity giving priority to students in the following categories:

  • Students with excessive absences and failing grades in two or more core subjects (math, science, social studies and English).
  • Students identified with extenuating circumstances

Learning pods allow select students the opportunity to be on campus while continuing to learn remotely. Students will still receive remote instruction from their teacher of record.

Campuses will communicate with affected students and families in the priority populations regarding protocols for returning to school beginning Nov. 9. Families in these groups may still opt for remote-only instruction.

Please note that only those students who are contacted by their school may return at this time. All other students will continue learning remotely from home.

Teachers will continue to provide instruction remotely. Students whose parents opted for remote learning will continue to learn from home using Schoology.  Face-to-face instruction will resume, and more student groups will be added, once El Paso County enters the Orange Zone.

For information about EPISD’s Reopening Plan and protocols, visit

Story by Gustavo Reveles