Quintin Shepherd: Two big things for you to know

A word from Superintendent Quintin Shepherd

The following is an article provided by Superintendent Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.

There are two important things happening next week to which I want to make you aware. The first is the remote start of school and the second relates to planning for a safe start, strong start when we can return in person.

Our remote start begins on August 18. I will not attempt to distill our plans into one short paragraph because I simply cannot provide enough detail in this short space. Please know the entirety of our planning can easily be found on our website visd.net in one click. We have safety plans, schedules, instructional continuity documents, learning plans, information about technology, etc. Although we have spent our summer preparing for our start, I have no doubt we will run into obstacles. As of today, as I write this piece, there are still hundreds of students who have not been registered for school. This means we do not know if they need devices or hotspots. It also means we don’t know what to plan for as we plan for our in-person return to school. As we have done since early March, we will adapt and pivot as our situation continues to evolve. I also fully anticipate we will run out of devices and hotspots. At such time, we will ask students to return to campus where we have some desktop computers, which are being repurposed to support these students. Every student will be given the opportunity to access their education, we may have to be creative to make that happen. As of today, when I am writing this, we are still waiting on 3,480 laptops to be delivered and 1,200 hotspots. Some of this is directly related to “Operation Connectivity” from the Governor’s office and coordinated through the Texas Education Agency. We were given indication they would bulk order technology for districts in anticipation for the start of the year and those devices are now slated to be delivered sometime in early September. I will continue to update our community moving forward.

Next week, I will also be meeting with our local health authorities to review our benchmark data about new cases, recoveries, total cases, etc. We will discuss data trends and thresholds. When we first indicated we would be starting fully remote, our case counts in Victoria were increasing rapidly and we were experiencing widespread community transmission. I am working with our local health authorities to create a three-tiered chart for our students, parents, teachers and community. Phase one at the bottom would be for “minimal” transmission. Phase two will be for “moderate” transmission. Phase three will be for “substantial” transmission. Each of these phases will be created using a variety of data points and metrics such as the number of new cases per 100,000 people over the most recent one-week period, percent of tests that return a positive result and trend in case counts.

Once this chart is created, we will release it to the media and post on our website in an effort to be radically transparent about where we stand as a district and what actions we may have to take to slow the spread. As always, I appreciate both the patience and flexibility of students, parents, teachers and community as we endeavor to have a safe start, strong start.