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Nederland Schools adopt calendar for 2020-21 highlighted by longer school day

NEDERLAND — The Nederland Independent School District’s updated 2020-21 school year calendar includes longer days, allowing flexibility for possible COVID-19 closures.

The new schedule adds 30 minutes to the school day for all grade levels.

The model allows NISD to bank one school day for every 15 school days attended, building “intervention” periods into the schedule in the event of a closure.

School is slated to start on Aug. 17. If there is no delay in the year, the last day of school is scheduled May 18, 2021.

The school board voted and unanimously approved the new calendar Monday night at a monthly meeting hosted through Facebook Live.

Assistant Superintendent Stuart Kieschnick said NISD administration worked closely with the Texas Education Agency and their COVID-19 taskforce to propose the best solution for the district.

“Unanimously, our district, and the people in the committee, wanted to stay as close to a traditional calendar as possible,” he said. “With that in mind, also keeping in mind we know our kids are behind. How could we do that?”

Nederland ISD administration created a “Transition Team” to study different options and develop the chosen plan. The Transition Team consists of academic advisors, operators, teachers and distance learning specialists.

“We know that not just NISD, but every school district in the state, every student in the state, did not get the education they normally do,” Kieschnick said. “So with this new calendar we built in some intervention time.”

NISD will also hire “interventionists” specific to each grade level.

Kieschnick said interventionists would focus on specific needs of the students.

“Potentially, the interventionists could work with a whole class, but they could also work with three or four children or one child at a time,” he said. “It’s specific to the way those kids need it. Basically, it puts a certified teacher closing gaps with specific children based on their specific needs. That’s our plan to close some gaps that were created through COVID.”

Kieschnick presented the pros and cons of the new schedule to the school board.

“This way we have no extended breaks,” he said. “We stay with our traditional calendar. Almost the same way it looks last year and the year before, but we bank days. We can shut down anytime. We have 11 flex dates if we have to use those days. If not, students get out earlier.”

The plan is not without drawbacks.

“It’s not perfect,” Kieschnick said. “Kids will go to school longer. It is going to increase the teacher work day in length and minutes. That’s a downfall.”

Although details regarding school hours, transportation and other restrictions are still under discussion, Kieschnick presented an inside look at a potential standard school day.

Elementary schools would start 5 minutes earlier, tacking on the remaining 25 minutes to the end of the day.

Middle school and high school would start 10 minutes early and go 20 minutes longer.

School board President Micah Mosley shared his thoughts on the plan in a social media post following the meeting.

“There is no perfect solution and no proposal accommodates a full shutdown for any extended period of time,” he said. “This proposal results in minimal overall disruption, which is something I felt the community strongly communicated two weeks ago in my Facebook post. This proposal also provides a little relief if we have to shutdown.”

With the current proposed plan, the school district would be ready to go online within two days if the state mandated a shutdown.

NISD officials ask the community to be patient as they navigate the final planning for the upcoming school year.

Superintendents in the state of Texas are meeting this week with Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath and the Texas Education Agency to provide more state guidance.