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Central Texas school districts use ‘COVID Bank’ days to make up for closures

With many parents and students concerned about rising COVID cases in schools, a pair of Central...
With many parents and students concerned about rising COVID cases in schools, a pair of Central Texas school districts say they have a plan that’s already in motion. (Salado ISD photo/file)(KWTX)
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 8:10 PM CST
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SALADO, Texas (KWTX) - With many parents and students concerned about rising COVID cases in schools, a pair of Central Texas school districts say they have a plan that’s already in motion.

According to TEA guidelines, a school district is required to have 75,600 minutes of instruction each year to receive funding.

In response to the pandemic’s toll on schools last year, both Mexia and Salado ISD have set up their regular days to be 30-35 minutes longer than normal this year to save the extra time as COVID bank days.

Mexia ISD Superintendent Ryder Appleton says their recent closing will only see them have to make up one class day thanks to those COVID bank days already saved up, and believes its more than manageable.

“I’m not gonna do anything that will have a negative impact on our funding for the school district and not to mention, our students deserve the instruction,” he said.

“That puts me at one day to make up which is very easy to do. I could lengthen the school days to five minutes more each day if necessary. I could look at one of our bad weather makeup days. There’s a number of opportunities that I could do that will ensure that we meet our instructional requirements which I can promise you we will do.”

Meanwhile, Salado ISD Superintendent Michael Novotny says they’ve had to use up three days this week to close their campuses, leaving just under one COVID bank day if they need to use it.

It’s very helpful in that it allows us the flexibility in a situation where we have to close for three days, we don’t have to make up those days, but still provide the students enough instructional requirements of 70,600 minutes,” he said.

So far, both districts have confirmed that cases are slowly starting to settle down and are hopeful this could be the big blow needed to keep in-person learning afloat for the remainder of the year. Regardless, Novotny says this system of scheduling extra minutes may be the blueprint for schools moving forward.

“I do anticipate that we won’t have to close again the rest of the school year because of COVID,” he said.

“It is a very efficient, flexible system that we’ll continue to use in years to come. More likely, those closures will be because of weather situations rather than the pandemic.”

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