Local superintendents urge students to return to class

Special to the Bulletin
School superintendents, from left,  Dr. Josh Martin  (Bangs), Dr. Dewayne Wilkins (Early) and Dr. Joe Young (Brownwood) are pictured outside the Brownwood Country Club in August after speaking about their school districts at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce's monthly luncheon.

The superintendents of four local school districts jointly released a statement urging students to return to class rather than opting for remote learning.

Dr. Joe Young (Brownwood), Dr. Josh Martin (Bangs), Dr. Dewayne Wilkins (Early) and Dwin Nanny (Panther Creek in Coleman County) released the statement through the Brownwood school district.

The statement follows:

Bangs, Brownwood, Early, and Panther Creek ISD families,

Since last spring, you have all worked extremely hard to make education a priority for your students while keeping them safe and healthy. Our district staff members have had the same priorities and have worked tirelessly to prepare and make each day better than the last. Our fall semester has been more successful academically than our spring semester, but it is still falling short of the high standards we all hold for our students.

Remote instruction is a concept our districts hope can continue to meet the needs of a highly-specific group of students. It is apparent, however, that it is not the best choice for many students. Remote learning has proven difficult for students, hard for the staff, and challenging for families. Our districts see an average of 30 percent difference in our face-to-face learners’ success rate and our remote learners based on the first grading cycle.

Our districts’ face-to-face protocols are keeping students safe. Since the beginning of school, we have worked closely with the Brownwood/Brown County Health Department to identify those who come in contact with COVID-19 positive individuals while on campus. In our districts with combined enrollment of 5,571 students and 987 staff, there have been 77 individuals test positive for COVID-19. None of the 77 cases have been tracked to on-campus transmission. During the case investigations, 456 additional individuals have been quarantined for 14 days. As of October 15, none of the 456 quarantined individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 from on-campus infection.

Based on our belief that our districts provide a safe environment for students and staff, along with the data showing success in face-to-face instruction, we are strongly encouraging students to return to campus. We do not want students to choose home-school, neighboring districts, or private/charter schools based on this statement, but we must be honest in letting our families know that some of our students’ current paths are not sustainable.

There are still options for quarantined students, students with health considerations, and students who show success in remote instruction. Families who wish to continue remote instruction must follow specific instructions and deadlines on each district’s website.