Updates from Superintendent Dr. Marc Smith

September 1, 2021

Duncanville ISD families,

We have now been in school for a month. During that time, I’ve seen students who are happy to be back and are excited to be in person with their classmates. It’s my goal to keep our students safe and able to attend school, because we have seen there is no replacement for the social and emotional benefits of in-person learning.

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a slight decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases reported to the district. To continue that downward trend of cases and proactively prepare for upcoming holiday breaks, I am enacting a temporary mask mandate effective Tuesday, Sept. 7. After the Labor Day holiday weekend, anyone inside a Duncanville ISD facility will be required to wear a face mask or face covering. Our staff will have plenty of face masks available if anyone needs one provided.

I believe it’s important to use the data we have to make informed decisions. For example, a review of our peak periods for COVID-19 over the past year shows an increase of cases after each holiday break. It is uncommon for the virus to be spread in our schools, but we know that the holiday periods are when families frequently gather and people may choose not to wear face masks around loved ones. With Labor Day weekend and an upcoming Fall Break in October, putting a temporary mask mandate in place is a proactive decision and attempt to mitigate the number of positive cases in our schools.

I specifically call this a temporary mask mandate because the courts have not made a final decision on this matter. Due to the nature of multiple court rulings and unpredictable outcomes in the future, we must remain fluid and be prepared for possible changes.

In the meantime, we will follow our district safety protocols and listen to the health experts who continue to encourage people who are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. To make that easy for you, we are hosting a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic this week at Duncanville High School in the West Gym. Students, family members, staff and community members who are 12 years old or older can schedule an appointment for Friday, September 3. We are partnering with Tom Thumb/Albertsons to host this clinic. To learn more and schedule an appointment, click here.

Between your survey responses, emails, calls and the discussions I’ve had with various stakeholders, I have been doing quite a bit of listening. I weighed all of your interests and the reasons before making this decision. Thank you for being so direct and sharing your concerns.

There was one common thread with everyone I communicated with - you wanted to make sure we are doing what is best for students. Putting students first is a great example of #UnstoppableExcellence.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Smith

Superintendent of Schools

Duncanville ISD

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August 15, 2021

Duncanville ISD family,

Today the Texas Supreme Court granted a temporary stay against Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins order issued last week requiring face masks in schools and businesses. Duncanville ISD will follow the court’s decision against issuing a mask mandate.

Starting Monday, August 16, 2021, Duncanville ISD will no longer require a face mask be worn in our school facilities. However, we will return to our prior stance of strongly encouraging the use of a face mask or face covering for all students, staff and visitors to our schools.

We will continue to make safety a priority in our daily actions, whether there is an order for a mask mandate or we are strongly encouraging people to wear a face covering inside school facilities. Duncanville ISD staff will emphasize our established safety protocols, which include:

  • Face mask and face shields available
  • Each classroom is equipped with a handheld e-mist sanitizing device
  • Routine hand washing for students
  • School buses sanitized each day
  • Partner with medical groups to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to those eligible and interested

To view a comprehensive list of our safety protocols, go to the Back to School webpage on the Duncanville ISD website.

I recognize the change in face mask requirements is confusing. Ideally, we would stay the course and continue with the decision that the majority of our families and staff have expressed an interest in, which is a mask mandate. I encourage those who are in favor of wearing masks to do so to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Thank you for your patience and grace as we work together in the best interest of students.

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Smith

Superintendent of Schools

Duncanville ISD

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Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021

Duncanville ISD family:

In light of the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases in our area, we are increasing our health and safety protocols to protect our students and staff.

Duncanville ISD will follow the emergency order announced today by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins which requires masks to be worn at all Dallas County public schools beginning at 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, August 11. That means when students get on their buses tomorrow morning and they and our staff return to our campuses and facilities on Thursday, everyone will be required to wear a mask covering their noses and mouths.

We believe this mask order will contribute to the success of our ongoing cleaning and other protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Our efforts are intended to make sure students can continue to learn in the best place possible – in their classrooms with their teachers and peers.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this ever-changing situation. By working together we can ensure this school year is our best yet as we pursue #UnstoppableExcellence.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Smith
Superintendent of Schools
Duncanville ISD


 

Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021

Duncanville ISD Families, 

Throughout the ongoing pandemic, the welfare of our students and staff has been our top priority and remains at the core of every decision. COVID-19, as you are aware, is still very active. This is why I continue to monitor federal, state, and local trends in order to make decisions in the best interest of our schools. 

Last week I shared the most recent safety guidelines communicated by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). As I stated in my August 6 letter, we will continue to exceed TEA’s recommendations and follow our current safety protocols that take a higher level of precaution. Although our schools are safe today, we must be willing to adapt our practices and protocols as needed to proactively respond to the virus. 

It is our goal to keep students learning in person if at all possible, because we know that students learn best when they are in classrooms with their teachers. Therefore, in response to the growing COVID-19 cases in our area, we are considering increasing our safety protocols to require the wearing of face masks at all campuses and facilities in Duncanville ISD. This decision is outside of the state’s mandate of optional face masks in schools, which is why we are seeking your feedback.

We are asking our families to complete the following survey to share your thoughts regarding increasing the protection

of students and staff by requiring the wearing of face masks. It is our desire to make this decision quickly; therefore, we are asking for your response no later than Friday, August 13, 2021. 

Thank you for your ongoing support and understanding as we work to protect the health and well-being of our students and staff. 

Sincerely, 
Dr. Marc Smith
Superintendent of Schools
Duncanville ISD 


 

Friday, Aug. 6, 2021

Hello, Duncanville ISD family.

Today we completed our first full week of the 2021-2022 school year, and we are off to a great start. I have visited several campuses and I am impressed with the quality of classroom instruction and the way students are engaging.

School began earlier for us this year with the goal of providing more classroom time to accelerate learning and address instructional challenges we faced during the past 16 months. We know that COVID-19 is still very active, which is why we continue to emphasize the protocols in place to provide a safe and healthy school environment. 

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released new safety guidelines yesterday that will impact some of our protocols moving forward. Since we have already started school, we will maintain our current safety protocols. After Labor Day we will adjust some elements to meet the TEA guidelines.

Continuing safety protocols include the following:

  • Students, staff and visitors to school facilities and on school buses are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings. Based on state orders, we cannot require face coverings but wearing them is encouraged. 
  • Facilities will be e-misted routinely with sanitizing spray.
  • Each classroom teacher and additional departments have been provided handheld e-mist devices and sanitizing spray for use in high traffic areas as needed during the day.
  • Students will be required to routinely use hand sanitizer and wash hands throughout the school day. 
  • When possible, we’ll strive to maintain a social distance of 3 feet (6 feet when appropriate and possible). Face coverings, face shields and desk shields will be made available.
  • School buses will be cleaned and sanitized daily and equipped with hand sanitizer.  
  • Students and staff should self-report if they have tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • The district has hosted two on-site COVID-19 vaccination clinics in addition to partnering with local hospitals to welcome staff and students who qualify for the vaccination. We are in the process of organizing additional vaccination clinics.
  • Staff have rapid COVID-19 testing available at each campus.

Starting Tuesday, Sept. 7, contact tracing will be conducted through the self-reporting process. Students and staff will have the responsibility to self-report if they have tested positive for COVID-19. If there is a positive test, the person will be required to quarantine for up to 10 days or until the person has a negative COVID-19 test.

Based on TEA guidelines contact tracing is no longer required; however, in Duncanville ISD, we are empowering our staff members and families with the ability to care for one another by self-reporting their status to keep others safe and healthy.  

Thank you for your patience and understanding. I am looking forward to a productive school year of #UnstoppableExcellence.

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Smith

Superintendent of Schools

Duncanville ISD