BELTON, Texas — The Belton Independent School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to delay the start of the 2020-2021 school year until September 8, according to the district.
The board meeting was called after an announcement by the Bell County Public Health District that ordered schools to not open for face-to-face instruction until after September 7. Attorney General Ken Paxton then contradicted the previously stated guidance from the Texas Education Agency Tuesday.
“The majority of us rely on doctors’ advice and opinions on health safety matters on a regular basis,” Belton ISD Superintendent Matt Smith said in a press release. “The order from Bell County Public Health District resonates with me and while their authority may be questioned, I don’t want to underestimate the value of the opinion of medical professionals in our county that live here as well.”
A survey that the district conducted found that 60% of Belton ISD families wanted a face-to-face return when school resumes. Teachers indicated they would need more time to plan and prepare for teaching online learning management systems.
“Teacher preparedness is weighing on my mind heavily,” Smith said. “We’re asking them to entirely change the way they deliver instruction to our students. If I don’t have teachers who feel well prepared and trained in order to make sure they can do what’s right for kids, we won’t have exceptional learning for those students.”
Flexibility and agility will continue to be necessary components for a successful 2020-2021 school year, according to Smith.
“We’ve been rolling with the punches and we’ll continue to do so,” Smith said. “We’ll take advantage of every additional second this gives our teachers and staff the opportunity to be prepared to kick off the new school year, and hopefully it will also allow time for the rise in local cases of COVID-19 to slow.”
The major changes to the academic calendar include:
- The first day of school for students is now Sept. 8 instead of Aug. 19.
- The first semester will extend into 2021, concluding on January 22.
- The last day of school for students will be June 9 instead of May 26.
- Graduation is moved from May 27 to June 10
- Thanksgiving/fall break, winter break, spring break and other student holidays would remain as previously scheduled.
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