PA, Nederland, PNG school leaders address restart dates, grade promotion & graduation plans

Published 9:56 am Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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Local districts are pushing back their return to campus after President Donald Trump announced over the weekend a prolonged nationwide “stay at home” order through the end of April.

Schools across Mid- and South County are adapting to changing orders by assessing online learning strategies, grade promotion concerns, return dates and the status of graduation.


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Port Arthur Independent School District’s return date is undetermined.

Superintendent Mark Porterie said the online learning has been well received by parents and students.

“I am proud of our curriculum team, parents and students for the way they have embraced at-home instruction,” he said. “We have received questions as well as resolutions from parents and students as to how we could strengthen our online learning.

“It is amazing how quickly our community has carried themselves to ensure that our children are successful. There are still a few challenges that we are faced with but we are pleased with the progress.”

District officials are currently awaiting instruction concerning grade promotion, including how they may modify grading policies to account for providing instruction in a distance-learning format.

“We will focus on getting sufficient information to determine levels of proficiency for students to ensure they are prepared to be academically successful moving into the next school year,” Porterie said.

The district will also wait for direction from governmental, county and local agencies as to the status of the coronavirus before a decision an official decision is made.

The potential for a commencement ceremony is under advisement.

“We want our parents and students to be confident that we are doing everything that we can possibly to graduate as many of our seniors as possible,” Porterie said. “The goal for PAISD, currently, is to ensure that students receive their diplomas.”

Seniors and parents are encouraged to contact Memorial High School Principal Glenn Mitchell, school counselors, teachers and Dr. Dodson concerning anxieties regarding graduation.


Port Neches-Groves Independent School District’s return date is currently set for April 13.

Assistant Superintendent Julie Gauthier said concerns regarding grade promotion going forward will be based on assessment from teachers, principals and parents.

“As far as grade requirements and holding students back, we are going to err on the side of the child and what’s best for them,” she said. “As long as they are doing what they need to be doing at home, we have no reason to hold them back.”

Gauthier said the concerns with repeats are low.

“We are technically ‘in’ school right now,” she said. “We are completing all our days and requirements so students are still completing the grade they are in as long as they continue to participate and turn in work.”

Pre-K through eighth grade is under a review-only style of learning, while students at the high school level are receiving new assignments in core curriculum, grading remains based on participation only.

Gauthier said the homebound learning program has been better than anyone expected.

“It has been a joy to watch our teachers jump in and be the heroes we always knew they were,” she said. “Our principals are doing an exceptional job keeping that school family together. Our principals, our teachers, our staff, they are all there to make students feel like they are apart of something, even though we are maintaining social distancing.”

Last week, PNGISD announced graduation will be moved to “The Reservation” after Lamar University cancelled all scheduled events at their facility.

“We are going to give our kids a graduation no matter when or where that will be,” Gauthier said.

At this time, graduation is planned for 7 p.m. May 21. Date and time are subject to change.


Nederland Independent School District will return to campus April 13.

Assistant Superintendent Stuart Kieschnick said the first week of online learning went well.

“There are some adjustments that we as administrators and teachers have to make along with parents and students,” he said. “We understand this is a very abnormal time for everyone and we are working diligently to ensure all students are successful.”

NISD is taking guidance from the Texas Education Agency regarding grade promotion.

“This entire situation is fluid and ever-changing,” Kieschnick said. “Our administrators are reviewing guidelines and working on developing plans dependent on the length of school closures. As soon as more information becomes available, we will share with our school community.”

Graduation is on track for 7 p.m. May 28 at Ford Park.