CFISD opens school year with both on-campus, remote instruction

CYPRESS — Cypress-Fairbanks ISD welcomed students to 92 campuses and remote learning on Sept. 8, the first day of classes, beginning the 2020-2021 school year with revamped instruction, updated safety protocols and the unveiling of CFISD’s 19th middle school.

The first day was pushed back to Sept. 8 by the approval from the Board of Trustees to modify the 2020-2021 instructional calendar. The later start allowed CFISD additional time to prepare schools for students’ safe return to campus.

Students began with two options of instruction for the 2020-2021 school year: traditional on-campus learning with health and safety protocols and CFISD Connect, the district’s new remote learning option that connects students virtually to the classroom. Both options will follow the same curriculum, instructional calendar, grading procedures and attendance policies.

“No one has done this before, but they’re all collaborating and coming up with great ideas on how to connect with the students in special ways, make connections and build relationships,” Lieder Elementary School Principal Dinah McMichael said.

Students opting for on-campus instruction joined school staff in adhering to health and safety protocols in accordance to guidance by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), governing authorities and health officials. They included self-screenings prior to entering a school bus or campus, wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.

Teacher and student desk shields are being utilized in the classrooms, with approximately 50,000 delivered in the days leading up to the first day of instruction and more are on order.

“Seeing the desk shields come in on the truck in boxes, and then seeing them utilized on the students’ and teachers’ desks makes us appreciate all the work our teams have been doing to get the schools ready,” said Bill Powell, assistant superintendent of support services.

Rowe Middle School opened its doors as CFISD’s 19th middle school and 92nd campus. Harold Rowe, the school’s namesake who retired in 2012 as associate superintendent for technology and school services, joined Principal Stacia Carew in welcoming new students.

The campus joins the educational village that includes Cypress Park High School, Cy-Fair Community Health Center and a future elementary school.

“Having kids here at Rowe is so exciting,” Carew said. “For me, it’s been since November when I was named principal of Rowe that I’ve actually had kids here in the building with me. So this morning was super special, allowing kids to come back to school during this incredibly difficult time.”

A number of other campuses opened their doors to students following a variety of completed renovation projects to update the schools and improve learning environments.

“The students are ready and we’re ready for them,” said Dr. Abe Lozano, Watkins Middle School principal. “We’re going to embrace any of the challenges that this school year is going to bring but we’re ready for it. They’re taking our safety protocols seriously and we’re excited about that. We’ll be able to build on that for the rest of the year.”



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