RISD School Times — Sept. 10, 2020

Superintendent’s Update — Sept. 10

Click here to watch the weekly superintendent’s update. Dr. Stone talks about the second first day of school and the RISD COVID-19 Notification Portal. Other highlights include:

  • Junior high schools are finalizing preparations for the return of students on Monday for those families who made the choice to return for face to face instruction.
  • About 53% of RISD students are returning to campus this month with 47% remaining virtual through the first nine weeks, which ends Oct. 16.
  • The next window to change a student’s learning environment to in-person from virtual or vice versa is Sept. 29 to Oct. 2. Information about that process will be sent by each school.
  • Parents of in-person students are urged to comply with guidelines and requests related to drop off, pick up, wearing masks, limiting in-person school visitations, and modeling responsible behavior for students. Parents must assess their child for illness every day and not send students with any symptoms to school.
  • All parents are encouraged to complete a brief online student health screener each school day.
  • RISD has developed a COVID-19 Notification Portal to notify parents and employees of lab-confirmed positive cases of the virus.
  • Click here to see an infographic detailing some of the protocols that parents and students can expect as in-person instruction resumes.

Dr. Stone has provided updates throughout the pandemic. Previous messages and other pandemic information and resources can be found here.

COVID Notification Portal

State guidelines require that school districts notify parents and employees of lab-confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 occuring in their school.

In keeping with RISD’s practices to respond to COVID-19 and keep parents, employees, students and the RISD community informed, the district has developed the RISD COVID-19 Notification Portal.

The portal was developed to report the number of lab-confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 among people at each RISD school and central location. The information includes the cumulative number of lab-confirmed cases identified for each school and central staff site since the school year began on Aug. 19, and also the number of currently active cases identified by location, if any.

Identified positive case numbers include all students and staff at a campus, including virtual students. The notification portal will be updated daily and as RISD Health Services staff complete the steps necessary to confirm cases and contact trace.

Please remember that the RISD COVID-19 Notification Portal is for general parent, staff, and community notification purposes. If any RISD student or employee is determined to be a close contact of a positive case, parents and employees will be notified individually and immediately with next steps, including quarantine information.

RISD is required to treat the identity of all students or employees testing positive as confidential.

Much more information about RISD’s response to the pandemic, including additional information about positive cases and protocols, the online student health screener, directory of RISD nurses, and information about symptoms and quarantine is available at www.risd.org/covid19.

Thousands of elementary school students returned to in-person instruction on Tuesday, and RISD teachers welcomed them back with socially distant open arms. #RISDWeveGotThis

Early Release Wednesday Sept. 16

When RISD built the 2020–21 calendar, four days were designated early release. The first early release day of 2020–21 is Wednesday, Sept. 16.

All face to face and virtual students will be dismissed two hours early next Wednesday. Please account for the early release when making arrangements for transportation home on Sept. 16.

The other early release days this year are Oct. 28, Feb. 24 and April 14. Each early dismissal occurs on Wednesday; RISD began early release days in 2019–20 as a way to provide teachers with additional professional development and preparation time.

Four RISD Seniors Named National Merit Semifinalists for 2021

Two Richardson High School seniors and two Pearce High School seniors have been named National Merit Semifinalists.

Congratulations to Ben Digennaro and Andrew Webb of RHS, and Aaron Beedilla and Nina McGarrahan of PHS.

They are among 16,000 national semifinalists — representing less than 1% of all seniors across the country — who are competing for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million that will be awarded in the spring.

High school students enter the program by taking the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test that serves as an initial screen of about 1.5 million entrants each year.

National Merit Finalists are selected based on their exceptional abilities, skills and accomplishments, and are highly recruited by selective colleges across the nation with some colleges and universities offering significant scholarships or even full-rides based on National Merit status, according to RHS Counselor Nancy Thompson.

Congrats again and best of luck this year! #RISDGreatness

Board Adopts 2020–21 Tax Rate; Eager Sworn In As Trustee

Richardson ISD trustees adopted a tax rate of $1.4047/per $100 of taxable assessed value for 2020–21.

The tax rate is slightly lower than last year’s $1.41835/per $100. The amount of property taxes an RISD homeowner will pay is also determined by the appraised value of their residence.

Texas offers all homeowners a homestead exemption of $25,000 to help reduce property taxes, and RISD will continue to offer homeowners an additional local optional homestead exemption of 10%, which further reduces the tax levy.

Also at the first in-person monthly meeting of the RISD board since March, Eric Eager was sworn in as trustee for At Large Place 6.

Eager is the only RISD community member running for the seat after a second candidate withdrew in August. The board previously chose to cancel the November election and install Eager as trustee for At Large Place 6.

Welcome to the horseshoe, Eric. Thanks for your dedicated service to RISD.

\North Texas Giving Day Sept. 17

The 12th annual North Texas Giving Day is Thursday, Sept. 17.

Communities Foundation of Texas began the event in 2009 to give people “the opportunity to be a philanthropist to build a stronger and more vibrant community.”

Last year, 102,000 donors gave more than $50 million to about 3,000 area nonprofits, including The Richardson ISD Foundation, Network of Community Ministries and Dollars For College.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the past, and the early giving part of the 2020 campaign has begun.

District Calendar

Meetings, Events & Fundraisers


Universal Mask Requirement

As outlined in The Blueprint, all RISD students and staff are required to wear a cloth face covering when on campuses or at RISD events.

Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice.

This is called source control.

This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.

COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another, so the use of masks is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

CDC recommendations for masks will be updated as new scientific evidence becomes available.

Network Mobile Food Pantry

The Network of Community Ministries is providing emergency food boxes at four RISD campuses.

On Tuesday mornings from 8 to 9:30, the Network mobile food pantry will be at Thurgood Marshall Elementary.

Then on Thursdays, the food pantry will be at Carolyn Bukhair Elementary from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and Memorial Park Academy from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The food pantry will also be at Northrich Elementary on Thursday nights from 5 to 7 p.m.

A/B Calendar

Under The Blueprint, one change for the 2020–21 school year includes all students in grades 7–12 following an A or B block schedule each day, with days alternating throughout the instructional year. Class periods have been extended to 90 minutes, and students will have half their classes on A days and the other half of their classes on B days, alternating each day.

The RISD Student Academic Calendar has been updated to note each instructional day as an A or B day.

Let’s Talk!

Richardson ISD utilizes Let’s Talk!, a new customer service and communication platform on RISD.org that will allow community members to submit a question, comment, concern, suggestion or compliment, and they will receive a timely response.

The primary goal right now is to relay vital information related to the COVID-19 impacts and to answer stakeholder questions in a timely manner.

Download the Let’s Talk! app for iOS and Android devices, and enter the RISD Let’s Talk! ID — RI2329

Click here for FAQs.

Meal Information For 2020–21 School Year

Applications for free or reduced meals are now open for the 2020–2021 school year on www.Schoollunchapp.com.

Meal benefit applications must be completed each school year, and all parents are encouraged to apply as eligibility requirements change yearly and many families have incurred significant life changes this year that may qualify them for free or reduced-price meals.

Regardless of eligibility, all completed applications contribute greatly to RISD’s mission to ensure every student receives nutritious meals.

RISD Child Nutrition staff members began providing curbside breakfast and lunch service on Tuesday Aug. 18. Curbside meals will be offered each Tuesday and Thursday at all school campuses. Curbside meals are available for all students, and pricing will be charged according to eligibility. Please verify that sufficient funds are in the child’s account to cover the balance.

RISD encourages parents to deposit funds into the student’s account through www.PayPAMS.com.

Parents may pick up curbside meals without students present, but they must provide documentation of their student’s enrollment in RISD, such as a school-issued student ID, report card, birth certificate or a district verification message emailed to all RISD parents April 1.

For more information or assistance, please contact the Child Nutrition Office at 469–593–0108.

RISD School Times — Sept. 10, 2020 was originally published in Richardson ISD Newsdesk on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.