Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday ordered all public schools closed until Monday, May 4 to slow the spread of COVID-19, meaning that at-home learning in the Midlothian Independent School District will continue at least until then.
“Social distancing is our best tool in the fight against COVID-19, and the actions we have taken thus far have proven to be effective in limiting the spread of this virus,” Abbott said in Tuesday’s press conference. “Now it is time to redouble our efforts to reduce further exposure as much as possible and flatten the curve."
Texas Medical Association president Dr. David Fleeger praised Abbott’s decision.
“TMA physicians applaud Gov. Abbott for following the science and preventing Texans statewide from gathering – and potentially spreading this coronavirus. The fewer people exposed to COVID-19, the stronger our ability to overtake this disease without overwhelming our hospitals, physicians, nurses, and health care system,” Fleeger said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
In the meantime, distance learning continues in Midlothian ISD. In a letter to families on the MISD website, superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter touted teachers’ quality of care and their desire to continue inspiring excellence.
“After watching social media pictures and videos, as well as reading comments and listening to voicemails, MISD teachers have done a tremendous job in making the most incredible educational transition of our time by moving all learning to at-home, distance learning,” Ledbetter wrote. “With our goal of reconnecting with our students these past two weeks, our teachers have shared with me how excited they are to work with their students and take learning to a whole new level.”
MISD will continue to provide meals for all children as part of the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program, and Ledbetter announced that the program has been expanded to include new pickup locations.
Grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches are being provided from 9-11 a.m. on weekdays at J.A. Vitovsky, Baxter and Longbranch elementary schools, Jenkins Daycare, and the Village South office.
Mobile bus delivery routes have also been set up. A bus will drive the area in the Buffalo Hills neighborhood, making stops from 9 until 10:45 a.m. Additional deliveries are being made the to Old Fort Worth Road, Cement Valley, Country East and Pecan Acres areas between 10:40 and 11 a.m.
A bus will also make stops at Country Road 109 and V.V. Jones Road (Nicole Court and Sams Court) at 9 a.m., and along Norrell Road with stops at Mt. View, Cattle and Morgan Creek at 10 a.m.
“While this has been a tremendous transition for our whole district, your ongoing support and encouragement have been essential in lifting our spirits as we work around the clock improving systems to support learning at home,” Ledbetter concluded. “Your MISD Strong attitude is what makes our district and community a family. It’s our family that inspires, encourages and allows us to achieve new heights. On behalf of our Board of Trustees, teachers and staff, thank you for your patience and confidence during this historic time.”
Elsewhere in Ellis County, before Abbott’s proclamation, Waxahachie ISD superintendent Dr. Bonny Cain had announced that WISD had set Friday, April 17 as the date that students would return to classrooms. The reopening date was tied to the shelter-in-place order issued by the city of Waxahachie. Abbott's order pushes back the start of class to May 4.
No other school district in Ellis County had publicly declared an official date for a return to the classroom before Abbott's decree. Palmer ISD had committed to staying closed through April 17, superintendent Kevin Noack wrote in a letter to his district, but did not set a definitive reopening of campuses.
"At some point after this pandemic passes, we will hold a graduation ceremony," Noack wrote. "We hope to have the ceremony in June or July. But who knows at this point? Just know this, we will hold a graduation ceremony for the Seniors of 2020!"