Melissa ISD goes remote for 3 days before Thanksgiving

Staff reports
All Melissa ISD students were moved to at-home learning Nov. 18-20 so that custodial staff could deep clean all buildings.

Melissa ISD Superintendent Keith Murphy announced Monday night that all students would switch to remote learning for the last three school days before the scheduled week-long Thanksgiving break.  He said that the move was made proactively as part of the district’s ongoing COVID-19 mitigation process. He emphasized that this decision was not made in response to a significant rise in COVID-19 cases in the district.  Instead, the extra time from Nov.18- 20 will be used for the custodial staff to deep clean all school buildings.

Scheduled UIL activities were not impacted. The extra at-home learning days will still count as official school days, meaning there will be no changes to the academic school year.

“We understand that the timing of this announcement was far from convenient and that an unexpected pivot such as this one is not easy or comfortable for anyone. That said, our decision to move all students to a remote online learning environment for three days was made after much discussion and with much discernment, with our students’ safety and well-being top-of-mind.,” Murphy said in a follow-up message to parents. “On top of consulting with our campus administrators and Board of Trustees, I personally spoke with the office of the Texas Commissioner of Education to ensure that we were following proper protocol for our learn at home days.”

Keith Murphy

While the move was not in direct response to active cases of the virus among students and staff, Murph did say that there were a significant number of employee absences in the district to due quarantine protocols. The district’s independently-licensed employee daycare also had to shut down for two weeks due to one positive case of the coronavirus.  This left nearly 30 employees looking for other daycare options or taking personal days off. This problem has been compounded by a low number of substitute teachers available to teach in person. 

“Our principals and staff have worked tirelessly to fill these gaps every day and stay operational in order to continue serving our in-person students, but the fact of the matter is that without our teachers at work or substitutes to help out temporarily, we cannot serve our students at school,” Murphy said.

Melissa ISD began the school year with all students learning remotely.  This allowed teachers and staff to get set up in Schoology, the district's online platform should the need arise. Now that it has, Murphy says that he appreciates the feedback he’s received and hopes everyone understands that the decision was made with the best interest of Melissa students in mind even they don’t agree with it.

“We ask that you please continue to partner with us so that we can work together and strengthen our sense of community during this fraught time,” he said. “We look forward to welcoming our in-person students back to school after Thanksgiving and we wish everyone well during this briefly-extended time apart.”