Public Announcement

September 29, 2020

Tips to help prepare for in-person learning which begins in a few weeks

Imasul Villarreal
Regional ESL Program Manager
KIPP Texas–Houston

Imasul Villarreal is a proud Latina born and raised in Chicago. She was raised by a single mom who emigrated to this country from Mexico to allow her two daughters the opportunity for a “better life.” While her mom could not help her with the academic work, she knew that education was key for a better future and impressed upon her the importance of obtaining a “good education.”

Imasul was lucky enough to have teachers and mentors along the way to guide her work, thus inspiring her to apply to Teach for America. It was important for her that her students see teachers and leaders that look and sound like them, and that her students’ academic success was not dependent on luck.

She’s now in her 16th year in education, and has spent her entire career supporting bilingual/ESL students as a teacher, literacy specialist, assistant principal, and now as the Houston ESL Program Manager. Imasul’s motivation as a Big KIPPster comes from both, her professional skills and her personal story.

“During Latinx History Month, it is not enough to simply celebrate heroic trailblazers such as César Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Sonia Sotomayor. We must also use this time to educate ourselves, and our students, in the rich Latinx history that continues to shape this country and our communities in infinite ways. When we challenge ourselves to dig a little deeper, when we discover the stories that are too often overlooked, we learn that the Latinx experience is not merely a footnote in someone else’s story. Latinx History IS US History: the history or our people and the history of this country are intertwined.

Students need to know that our Latinx countries are a rich history of Indigenous, European, and African roots. They need to understand that it wasn’t that long ago when a full one-third of current US territory belonged to Mexico. As one story I read stated: “The border crossed me, I didn’t cross the border.” The history of our people needs to be taught to our students from a Latinx perspective.

Building our students’ knowledge of their own history will remind them of all that they have to be proud of, and help them understand that this world is a beautiful web of intersecting cultures. By teaching our students’ about their rich history, we teach them that our communities are more similar than we know, and we celebrate everyone’s strengths and contributions.”

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Dear KIPP Texas Families,

We are excited about the start of in-person learning in a few weeks! We have missed our KIPPsters dearly and are making final preparations for the safest possible start to in-person learning for those families who choose it. The update below contains a lot of information about those preparations and how they will impact your KIPPster’s experience when they step back into school. Please make sure you have reviewed the following resources, where you’ll find an overview and detailed information of our our plans so Big and Little KIPPsters alike will have a safe start:

  1. Please watch this “First Day of School”  video with your KIPPster
  2. Please read the At a Glance Back-to-School Guide 
  3. Please review the full Full Family Back-to-School Guide

For those of you whose KIPPsters will continue in virtual learning, please read this update as well since teachers’ class assignments and schedules may change over the next few weeks as we shift responsibilities to accommodate in-person learning.

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Important Dates

October 12 – No school

October 15 – Early dismissal (12:00 pm)

October 16 – No school for students (teacher in-service day)

You can find your region’s complete academic calendar on the KIPP Texas website: 
KIPP Texas-Austin: https://kipptexas.org/our-schools/austin/
KIPP Texas-Dallas-Fort Worth: https://kipptexas.org/our-schools/dallas-fort-worth/
KIPP Texas-Houston: https://kipptexas.org/our-schools/houston/
KIPP Texas-San Antonio: https://kipptexas.org/our-schools/san-antonio/

Skyward Student Access

As the first nine-week grading period comes to a close, we want to let you know that starting on September 30, you can access your KIPPster’s grades, attendance information, class schedule and more through the Skyward online portal. A link to the Skyward online portal along with online guides will be posted on the KIPP Texas KIPP Texas Virtual School site.   

On September 30, we will send a communication to your KIPPster’s email address and a text message to the phone number we have on file for you to let you know the portal is live and available for you to access. The portal will also have lots of resources to help you navigate Skyward. You will need your KIPPster’s email address and password to log into Skyward. This is the same email address and password that your KIPPster uses to log into Google classroom. 

If you have any questions or issues, please contact your school first to verify that you have the correct login information. Given that we are supporting virtual learning for more than 30,000 students, there may be a delay in technical support requests.

Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Method of Learning Survey

Now that the survey window has closed, thank you to those of you who completed the Method of Learning survey to select either the 100% virtual or the 100% in-person learning options for your KIPPsters. Please note that families who did not complete the survey have been placed in the 100% virtual option. This option will continue 100% virtual learning for the second nine-week grading period. Families have until October 5 to inform their school of changes to their Method of Learning selection.

We are now processing the Method of Learning survey results. These are some of the areas where the results could impact you KIPPster and / or their school:

  • Teacher Assignments – As we prepare to host in-person students and continue virtual teaching, we may have to shift your KIPPster’s teachers. Our goal is to minimize these changes whenever possible, but we anticipate there will be instances where a change will be unavoidable. The number of in-person students will also impact the student-to-teacher ratio in our classrooms.
  • Synchronous Learning Schedules – As our teachers balance in-person and virtual learning, we may need to adjust the times when your child is receiving live instruction from a teacher, either in a classroom or virtually. 
  • Transportation – If your KIPPster rode a school bus last year and intends to do so again this year, the results of the Method of Learning survey could impact the location of bus stops and pick-up/drop-off time.

We understand you and your KIPPster are anxious to learn about any changes in teacher assignments, schedules, and transportation. We are in the process of analyzing the Method of Learning survey by school to determine how many KIPPsters in each class will return in person and how many teachers and school staff are unavailable to work in person because of their own underlying health conditions or those of someone in their home. Based on the data, we will then make any necessary changes to teacher assignments, learning schedules, and transportation for students. We are working hard to minimize change for your child. Thank you for your patience and grace as we work through the data and make decisions. We will communicate any changes with you in advance of in-person start.

Week of October 5

During the week of October 5, all KIPP Texas teachers will be returning to our school buildings to fully practice safety protocols, set up their classrooms, and prepare for the phased-in return of our KIPPsters. You can expect that, starting on October 6, your child will have synchronous lessons (live on video with a teacher) in the morning and asynchronous lessons (self-paced assignments) in the afternoon. This will create the time for our teachers to train, set up and prepare for the start of in-person school.

In-Person Learning Safety Procedures

All KIPPsters, staff, and visitors will have their temperature checked before entering any KIPP Texas building. Any KIPPster or adult whose temperature measures 100 degrees fahrenheit or higher will be sent to a dedicated space. KIPPsters will meet with a KIPP Texas staff member who will call their parent/guardian to come pick their child up immediately. 

What You Can Do to Help Your Child: We will have TWO ways to check students for symptoms. Monday through Friday, before a student comes to school, all parents/guardians must check to see if their child has any of the symptoms listed in the Daily Health Self Screen Checklist.

On Sunday and Wednesday evenings, KIPP Texas will send an email and text notification for parents/guardians to complete a Health and Wellness survey online. Completion of this survey is mandatory before your child comes to school the following day. 

What’s the difference between the Daily Health Self-Assessment Checklist and the Health and Wellness survey? The questions on the checklist and the survey are the same. However, there are two differences between the checklist and the survey: 

  1. The checklist gets completed at home everyday and does not need to be submitted to the school.
  2. The survey only gets completed on Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings and does get submitted to the school. 

If a child is sick or feeling sick they must stay home, call their school, and seek professional medical attention, as appropriate.

KIPP Texas Website Update

The State of Texas requires that all public schools provide updated and accessible information regarding positive COVID-19 cases on our campuses. While we hope there won’t be any cases to report, you can find this information on the KIPP Texas website.

Facilities Upgrades

As part of our commitment to our students, staff and community’s safety, the KIPP Texas Facilities team has made several changes aimed at increasing the indoor air quality throughout our buildings.  

  • We have increased the quality of air filters that are used in our buildings to the type of filters used in hospitals. These filters will help reduce the airborne load of any infectious particles. 
  • We have also increased the frequency that our filters will be changed. This allows for better filtration, increases the amount of air changes in each of our spaces, and helps reduce the amount of contaminants in the buildings.  
  • We have optimized our HVAC units to increase the amount of outside fresh-air that is introduced throughout the day.  Again, this reduces the amount of ‘recycled’ air in our buildings and helps eliminate contaminants. 
  • Also, research has shown that temperature and humidity are key factors in how long COVID can survive outside the human body. Accordingly, we are optimizing our temperature and humidity controls to make our buildings less hospitable to the disease.     
  • Lastly, we have increased the amount of time that we run our HVAC units daily in order to allow the changes above to have the greatest effect. 

Grab & Go Meals

Although the majority of our KIPPsters are still participating in remote learning, we want to remind families that breakfast and lunch are available to all KIPP students daily. Our distribution services run Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at all campuses. If you haven’t already, by October 2nd please take 2 minutes to fill out this Curbside Meal Survey  so we can learn how to serve you better.

Thank you to those of you who have already filled out the Curbside Meal survey. We are excited to share that as a result of the responses we received, you can now go to your nearest or most convenient KIPP Texas campus to pick up your KIPPster’s meal! You do not have to go to the campus at which your KIPPster is enrolled. Please visit the Grab & Go meal page on our website to see the most convenient or closest campus to you.

Meals are free to enrolled students of established KIPP Texas schools. Students attending our new schools — KIPP Mosaic Primary, KIPP Mosaic Academy, KIPP Paseo Primary, KIPP Paseo Preparatory, or KIPP East End High School — must complete a meal application  to qualify for free or reduced meals this year.  You can also see what’s being served by visiting our Curbside Grab & Go webpage which features menus along with campus locations, distribution times, and safety measures.

The anticipation of having students learning in-person is almost the same as it was for the first day of school. We truly can’t wait! We are working diligently to be prepared to provide the safest, joyful, academically excellent learning environment for your child. Thank you for your continued partnership and support.

With gratitude,

Sehba Ali

Important Links

Virtual Learning Portal
At a Glance Back to School Guide
Complete Family Back to School Guide
Grab & Go meals
Register to Vote