Superintendent Cabrera Blog: Teachers are working hard to keep instruction going
Dear EPISD Family and Friends,
First of all, and most importantly, we want to wish everyone well during this unique and challenging situation. We are all concerned about the dramatic change in our day-to-day routines, but we are confident that if we follow the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention guidelines for social distancing we will slow the spread of COVID-19 and improve our chances of getting back to work and back to school!
Under our current plans, as mandated by the City of El Paso, the District will remain closed until further notice. We are in daily contact with city and county officials and we will keep you up to date on any changes.
During the spring break holiday, District Leadership was hard at work preparing our instruction and operational plans to get us through the closures. The wellbeing of our students is our top priority and we want to help maintain as much continuity in their learning as possible. This week, we will continue planning and working with our teachers to launch our distance learning plan, which we have called EPISD@Home, on Monday, March 30.
During the closures, we will operate in a virtual and remote environment. That includes distance learning for our students. Today, Monday, March 23, our teachers will begin their training via videoconferencing and development for our distance learning. Please stay tuned for more details this week.
Distance learning and virtual classrooms will be a new experience for many of us. However, EPISD has been preparing our students for this environment for years. Through our active learning instruction, our students and teachers regularly engage in digital learning. Technology has been a regular part of instruction at EPISD for years. All of our middle and high-school students already have their own personal laptops. We know EPISD@Home will be a breeze for them.
Our elementary students use technology at school, but not all families have devices at home. We want to ensure equity and access for all of our students during the closures. Our teachers will call every family to ask about accessibility at home. For families who do not have a laptop, tablet or computer at home, we will be distributing iPads. Starting on Thursday, March 26, we will have iPad distribution at all of our elementary schools. Distribution will be March 26-27 and March 30-April 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at all elementary campuses. We will distribute one iPad per family that needs one. We ask that if you only collect a device if you do not have another at home, so that we can ensure enough resources for families truly in need. If you have a middle- or high-school student, please have them share their laptop with siblings.
We know that families depend on our schools for many resources. It is very important to us that we lessen the disruption of services to our students. Today, we began serving meals to all children ages 1-18. On weekdays during the closure, children will be able to pick up take-home breakfast and lunch. These meals will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 50 school sites. Please visit episd.org for a list of locations. You can learn more about this program, including meal distribution centers, here.
I also want to alert the community about a change in the way our District approaches public meetings. Our EPISD Board of Trustees have two meetings scheduled for Tuesday, March 24. These meetings normally happen in person at the district’s central offices. However, because of social distancing, and in full accordance with Texas Open Meetings Act regulations, we will conduct the meeting via video and tele-conference. The public can view the meeting and even participate via the internet. You can learn more about viewing the meetings here.
I want to thank the EPISD employees who have worked through the spring break to help us respond to this unique situation. Your work and dedication to this community will help us move forward.
Please continue to visit our district website and follow us on social media for continued updates and information. If you have questions or concerns, please connect with us through our Let’s Talk (Contact Us) app on our website.
Thank you to all our Students, Parents and EPISD Employees for your patience and understanding as we navigate this situation together. Please stay healthy and safe. Stay home, practice social distancing and remember to wash your hands frequently, this will help us get back to normal as soon as possible.