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Challenging times and inspirational stories - Oct. 9, 2020

Dear SAISD Staff:


Local health data is trending positively again, and Bexar County has achieved a positivity rate that falls under 5%. This metric holds significance for our District, too. If the county maintains, or decreases, the positivity rate for a second week, we will look at transitioning to Level 3 Green on our safety matrix on Monday, Oct. 19. We will know this on Monday, Oct. 12.

If we transition to our green safety level in another week, we will be able to slowly phase in additional students – about 10% every two weeks – until we have up to 50% of our students back in the classroom. The health and safety of our students and staff remains a priority, and at each level of student occupancy, we will maintain social distancing guidelines.

Since our second grading period begins Tuesday, Oct. 13, we are reaching out to families whose children are learning remotely from home to determine their wishes for their children’s instruction as we move forward – especially as we foresee the potential of a gradual increase in student occupancy. We also will continue a remote-learning option for the entire school year for families who prefer that.

We are using a personal approach, rather than a parent survey, to help us efficiently balance families’ wishes with safety requirements. Conversations with parents are helping us prioritize the children and families with the greatest needs, and we will continue this one-on-one process as we move forward. 

Even as we begin our second grading period, we are still actively enrolling students in most of our schools. Our District is just one of many nationwide who are seeing high percentages of our youngest students – prekindergarten and kindergarten – not yet registered and engaged in classroom learning.

We are hearing, and completely understand, that some of our parents are waiting for in-person instruction. We know that the best place for our youngest students is in a learning environment with our talented and dedicated teachers. The social-emotional component of in-person learning is incredibly important. So, at this time, we are actively making outreach to those families. 

We’ve long advocated for access to early childhood education programs to start the learning process early, and we hope that as the local health data improves and our student occupancy increases, our youngest learners will return to school. 


This week we took the opportunity to celebrate World Teachers’ Day, and we extended our observance over multiple days. I am inspired by the great teachers in our district and how they engage our students in both virtual and physical classrooms – encouraging students to read, inspiring a passion for languages, making math and science fun, and turning history lessons into fun and exciting stories. 

Celebrating this week reminded me of a particularly influential teacher from my student days. Mr. Asher motivated my sixth-grade self to do better, to be better – and I am forever grateful. 

Years and distance never dim the power of great teachers, and I know these moments are being created every day in SAISD classrooms. It was during this week, and quite appropriately, that KENS 5 aired a story announcing the SAISD EXCEL Award winner as Marie Marks, Spanish teacher at Young Women’s Leadership Academy. 

KENS 5 has been honoring teachers for more than two decades, and now for the first time this year, they are launching student recognitions. Also this week, KENS 5 aired a story announcing SAISD’s first All-Star Student as Kalvin Rodriguez, a senior and JROTC cadet from Highlands High School. 

Please take a moment to watch both of their stories.

Next week, we are taking to the Board an instructional calendar change to make the Nov. 3 Election Day a student holiday. If Trustees approve the proposal, we will re-welcome students to our buildings on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

We are proud to partner with the Bexar County Elections Department to host 40 polling sites across the District, and realize this process draws increased traffic to our schools. Our proposal to make Election Day a student holiday would allow us to avoid disruptions to our arrival and dismissal procedures. Additionally, this change is possible since our instructional calendar exceeds the number of minutes required by the Texas Education Agency.

Before I close, I want to remind you that Early Voting begins Tuesday for the Nov. 3 elections. For a list of early voting locations within SAISD boundaries, and to learn more about the two SAISD propositions that will be on the ballot, please visit our Bond 2020 website

Thank you all for your continued understanding as we navigate a challenging time in our history. We will get through this together. 

I wish you all a restful three-day weekend.


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