On August 12, Boerne ISD was the first public school district in the San Antonio area to welcome students on campus for face-to-face classes. Now that the district is offering its fourth week of in-person instruction, we can see how their back to school plan for 2020-21 has evolved. Other districts and charter schools in the region are opening their campuses soon, as we have summarized in our guide to COVID resources and school calendars, and they can learn from the experience of leaders like Boerne ISD.
Boerne ISD’s 2020-21 Back to School Plan
Boerne ISD is a recognized leader for best practices—they won the 2020 H-E-B Excellence in Education Award for a small school district, and their board was nominated as the best in Region 20 for a 2019 TASA award. Their response to COVID-19 shows a high level of preparation and thoughtful communication with families and stakeholders. Effective communication makes the school community safer because students are more likely to follow proper procedures; it also serves to build trust.
The communication strategy uses engaging visuals and multiple channels—including email, text, social media, and Skyward—to share information with parents. The resources website includes a set of one-page flyers on topics to help families make decisions and keep their children safe:
- COVID-19 Diagnosis/Exposure Response Protocol
- Parent’s Tip Sheet
- Classroom Safety Mitigation
- Enhanced Sanitation
- Transportation Policy
- Learning Options
- Health Screenings
- Symptoms of Coronavirus
The Boerne Insider is a video series that gives families and community members an inside look into the district’s safety procedures. This video of the first day of school shows what students experienced on campus while following safety procedures like wearing masks all day and maintaining physical distance.
In 2020-21, Boerne ISD offers parents the choice of online learning or on-campus instruction. (There is currently no hybrid option.) On August 12, the first day of school, 77 percent of students attended school in person.
Boerne ISD Adapts to the Pandemic
Starting during the first week of school, a small number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed among members of the Boerne ISD community. The district’s COVID-19 Information Center has a dashboard showing the number of active positive cases and the number of exposures to a confirmed positive case. This transparency is a constructive way to build trust and confidence in the community. The district has been following and refining its procedures in response to each case: Which personnel need to go to the campus? How does the team secure and clean the affected space?
Boerne ISD Parent Perspective
Chesley Muenchow’s son attends Voss Middle School in Boerne ISD. She said, “Boerne has done an excellent job with their back to school plan. I feel that it was well thought out, and that it addressed the needs of both distance and in person learners.”
She added that students are required to wear masks all day. “We drop our son at school, but he rides the bus home. The bus is cleaned between trips, and each bus rider is assigned a single seat to be used daily.”
On campus, there are more safety procedures. “At school, they have spaced out desks, added more sanitation procedures, stopped sharing supplies, changed bell procedures to dismiss classes by grade level as to not crowd the halls, and separated grade level lunches into three different lunch periods to reduce exposure. At lunch, kids must sit distanced, and put the mask on after they are done eating.”
She is aware that there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Boerne ISD community. “Thus far, we have not received word that our son was exposed. Our son has been attending in person for three weeks now and we could not be more pleased.”
Boerne ISD Is Serving Its Community
Boerne ISD’s 2020-21 back to school plan responds to the community’s strong desire to educate most of their students on campus. Through clear communication, they have gained the community’s trust, informed them about their learning options, and helped them build new habits to stay safe and healthy. COVID-19 is present in the Boerne ISD community, but the district is refining its procedures based on each case.
Charter Moms Chats
Bryan Benway, Director of Communications at Boerne ISD, spoke with Inga Cotton about the district’s reopening experience on Charter Moms Chats.
Bryan Benway is the Director of Communications at Boerne ISD. Mr. Benway came to Boerne ISD after serving as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s District Director for three years. Before working in the Texas Legislature, Benway held a variety of communications roles over the past decade, including as a Nationally Syndicated radio host, as a Broadcasting and Media Relations Director in professional hockey, and working at Schreiner University in Kerrville, among others. Bryan, his wife Danica, and stepson Phenix reside in Boerne. Phenix is enrolled at Boerne ISD.
We also spoke with Bryan on August 14, but our apologies—we had some difficulties with the audio.
Read More About Boerne ISD
- “Coronavirus cases in San Antonio schools: Navarro ISD reports 2nd COVID-19 case at elementary campus,” Alia Malik, San Antonio Express-News, September 1, 2020
- “Boerne ISD confirms COVID-19 case at Champion High School,” Emily Donaldson, San Antonio Report, August 14, 2020
- “COVID-19 Case Reported At Boerne ISD’s Champion HS On Third Day Of School,” Camille Phillips, Texas Public Radio, August 14, 2020
- “Boerne ISD confirms first positive COVID-19 case since start of in-person learning,” Cody King, KSAT, August 14, 2020
- “Boerne ISD Starts School Year With Face-To-Face Instruction,” Camille Phillips, Texas Public Radio, August 14, 2020
- “Unlike most San Antonio-area school districts, Boerne ISD classrooms are now open,” Alia Malik, San Antonio Express-News, August 12, 2020
- “Boerne ISD is the first area school district to reopen campuses. Here’s how it went,” Emily Donaldson, San Antonio Report, August 12, 2020
- “Different starts to the school year at Boerne ISD and South San ISD,” FOX San Antonio, August 12, 2020
- “Boerne ISD started school in-person today. Here’s what campus looked like,” Taylor Pettaway, MySanAntonio.com, August 12, 2020
- “Here’s what it will take for two San Antonio-area school districts to reopen amid a pandemic,” Taylor Pettaway, MySanAntonio.com, August 3, 2020
- “Pair of Boerne ISD schools in Bexar County will now open for in-person learning on Aug. 12,” Alia Malik, San Antonio Express-News, July 29, 2020
- “San Antonio teacher and Boerne ISD earn statewide honors from annual H-E-B awards program,” Krista Torralva, San Antonio Express-News, May 5, 2020
- “San Antonio ISD Teacher, Boerne ISD Win H-E-B Education Awards,” Emily Donaldson, San Antonio Report, May 5, 2020
- “Boerne ISD’s school board nominated to be Outstanding School Board of the Year,” Brooke LaMantia, San Antonio Express-News, July 24, 2019
Read More About Schools Reopening
- “Information for Residents: Remote Learning for Schools,” City of San Antonio
- “Bexar County Health Authority Amended Health Directive”, August 7, 2020
- “COVID-19 Support: Public Health Orders,” Texas Education Agency (TEA)
- “Considerations for Schools,” Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
- “BASIS Charter Schools Reopening Plan: Families Choose in 2020–21,” San Antonio Charter Moms, August 13, 2020
- “Anne Frank Inspire Academy Reopening Plan 2020–2021,” San Antonio Charter Moms, September 1, 2020
- “Strong Start 2020: IDEA Public Schools Back to School Plan for 2020–21,” San Antonio Charter Moms, September 8, 2020
- “How Compass Rose Public Schools Is Reopening Schools in 2020–21,” San Antonio Charter Moms, September 15, 2020