Closing in on having all teachers and staff vaccinated against COVID-19, the Brownsville Independent School District plans to boost in-person attendance during the final six weeks of this school year and to open campuses across the district for face-to-face summer school in an effort to close the learning gaps caused by a year of distance learning.

At a Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday officials said 16% of staff, or about 1,000 employees had yet to receive the vaccine. BISD has already had two vaccination clinics and was to have a third Saturday morning.

Officials outlined plans to open campuses across the district for all-day in-person summer school in an effort to reach all students who need it.

And they announced an in-person attendance goal of 25% for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.

As of Tuesday, 29% of BISD’s more than 40,000 students were attending classes at their assigned campus, Nereida Cantu, deputy superintendent for Business and Operations said.

The in-person attendance goal is driven by Texas Education Agency requirements for Average Daily Attendance, or ADA, which determines eligibility for state funding, Cantu said. For the sixth six weeks TEA is requiring districts to increase in person attendance by 20% over attendance on “snapshot day,” which for the 2020-2021 school year was Oct. 30. BISD’s attendance that day was 40,590, with 992 attending in person, or 2.4%. Thus, BISD’s attendance requirement would be 22.4%, but the district has adopted 25% as its goal, Cantu said in a presentation to the Board of Trustees.

She also summarized funding the district is likely to receive because of recent federal stimulus legislation. Although the final figure remains pending, the reimbursement is likely to amount to nearly $13 million, she said.

Meanwhile, Anysia R. Trevino, deputy superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, outlined plans to open summer school on an in-person basis to virtually all students, during June and beyond.

A student follows along to a lesson about suffixes in English Language Arts Dec. 3 at Perez Elementary School.(Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

In her presentation, Trevino cited these sobering statistics from Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath:

>> After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it took four years for students who were forced to move to Texas from Louisiana to catch up academically in reading, something they never did in math.

>> Morath said he expects it to take four to five years, with the help of interventions, for Texas students to make up the learning losses attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

>> Morath also cited research concerning an 88-day teachers strike in 1983 in Argentina. It that found students at all grade levels never caught up to where they should have been after school reopened.

BISD will offer summer school at 10 elementary school sites from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from June 14-30 for students for all elementary students, during the same hours at several middle schools for all middle school students, and at Hanna Early College High School, Pace Early College High School, Brownsville Academic Center, and Brownsville Learning Academy from 8:30 to 4 p.m.

“We’re trying to hit all the angles and all populations … and especially students who are struggling,” Trevino said.

BISD will also offer 95 sections of dual enrollment classes to high school students at a cost to the district of $6,335 in tuition and $242,250 in adjunct professor costs. Summer I classes run from June 7 to July 9, and Summer II classes are from July 11 to Aug. 13.