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Port Arthur ISD breaks down new guidelines, strategy for upcoming school year

The district will offer remote learning to students and staff who don't feel comfortable heading back to campuses.

PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Port Arthur Independent School District has released its new guidelines Friday, and the changes begin at the front door.

Students and staff will be required to wear masks and use hand sanitizer before entering. You can also expected to get your temperature checked and be screened for other symptoms.

Port Arthur ISD has been working on this plan for months now, but Dr. Mark Porterie says how quickly things can change.

"As strict as this may be, these guidelines were prepared with worst case scenario in mind," said Port Arthur Superintendent Dr. Mark Porterie.

In June, Porterie made it clear that health and safety trumps everything else. Even if that means strict guidelines that may be uncomfortable.

“We're thinking total safety, and worst case scenario,” said Porterie.

Friday, the district released is plans for students and staff to return to school.
From the beginning, Dr. Porterie remained adamant about requiring masks. Even when the TEA only suggested it, Port Arthur ISD already had it in place. Now it's officially on paper for this upcoming school year.

“We want to do everything within our power to flatten the curve here in our area as much as we possibly can,” said Porterie.

Part of that is social distancing, and the district is committed to doing so at every available opportunity.

The following rules will be implemented at the start of the 2020-2021 academic school year.

  • The movement of students will be limited.
  • Each campus will reduce classroom capacities.
  • Hallways and stairs will be designated to one way traffic.
  • Furniture in classrooms and common areas will be rearranged to promote social distancing.

If someone tests positive, the school will close off the areas heavily used by the individual. If necessary, they'll close the campus for deep cleaning for about two to five days. During that time, students and staff can switch back to remote learning.

If those short hiatuses become constant, it could impact students learning. 

"That type of disruption is not good for students, it breaks the continuity of what they're doing," said Noel Candelaria.

Earlier this week, Texas State Teachers Association President Candelaria said it would've been "more beneficial" to stick to completely remote learning and focus on making sure everyone had access to it.

“No child or educator should be in any school building until it is deemed safe,” said Candelaria.

The district also announced that remote educations will be made available for both teachers and students who may not feel comfortable going back to school.

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