Nacogdoches ISD is preparing for a combination of in-person classes and distance learning and will not allow visitors on campus for the upcoming academic year.

Parents have until two weeks before school begins on Aug. 24 to select which type of instruction they want their children to receive, Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo said in a letter to parents Wednesday morning.

“Rules will be put in place, also guided by (Texas Education Agency) directives, about switching from online learning to in-person classes after the school year has started,” Trujillo said in his letter.

Those rules haven’t been set by the state, and Trujillo, who is beginning his first full academic year at NISD, cautioned parents that plans remain fluid as state officials continue to navigate the worsening coronavirus pandemic. The University Interscholastic League — the governing body of Texas public school athletics and extracurricular activities — has yet to release its own set of guidelines, casting doubt on to whether Friday night lights of football stadiums will light up across the Lone Star State on time.

“There are still details to be worked out for things such as recording attendance and verifying enrollment, providing opportunities for extracurricular participation, possible hybrid educational opportunities (a combination of both in-person and online) for specialized courses that might require hands-on experience, transporting students to and from school, providing personal protective equipment and masks and establishing reliable communication with parents and district stakeholders,” Trujillo said in the letter.

Trujillo’s letter comes a day after Texas Education Agency officials released guidelines for public school districts returning to class in the fall. State education officials stressed flexibility but ordered districts to have in-person classes for students whose parents want them at school.

Students older than 10 will be required a wear face masks as long as Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order on face coverings remains in place. Abbott’s order specifically excludes children younger than 10 from its requirements.

While state rules place certain limitations on visitors, NISD has outright banned them from campus.

“Regrettably, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, once school restarts, NISD will not allow outside visitors on our campuses, including parent visits for lunch,” Trujilio said in the letter.

NISD plans to move forward with the Aug. 24 start date adopted in February. That date was the preferred option selected by parents in a districtwide poll. Trujilio said district officials will likely add instruction days to the spring semester to account for any school closings required during the academic year.

Public schools have not met in person since March when Abbott ordered the facilities closed temporarily to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He extended the order in April to cover the remainder of the academic year.

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