The Wharton Independent School District began showing school supply lists for its four campuses, a major move that school will begin on a date yet to be announced. 

The lists for supplies were shown Thursday, July 16 on Wharton ISD’s website and Facebook page so its four campuses and their administrators, including parents/guardians can begin preparing for the upcoming school year amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

When asked if parents/guardians were still expected to provide school supplies to teachers if their children would be enrolling in online education, WISD said yes.

“We are asking all students to get supplies that they are able to find at this time,” WISD Public Relations Coordinator Bridget English said on Thursday, July 23 to the Journal-Spectator. “We understand some supplies might be difficult to find.” 

The lists were followed this week with reminders about how the disease would be affecting activities leading up to extra-curricular activities and in many cases the first day of school.

English was asked when the first day of school would be and said a date has not been set by WISD.

“The calendar is currently being worked on. We are waiting for guidance from the Texas Education Agency,” English said. “We hope to make an announcement soon.” This was the same answer WISD made when Philip Henderson, Sr., with the Wharton Tigers Alumni Association, asked about it via WISD’s Facebook page.

“It’s not affecting us. I was trying to get an update for the people. With most schools making their announcements and rumors going around on Facebook we just wanted a clear answer so parents can prepare themselves,” Henderson said. “Trying to be a voice for the people and ask the question people want to ask.”

English was asked if WISD would be addressing the results of the recent survey, which was created to get feedback from the community during the pandemic.

“The results are being compiled in preparation for the upcoming school year,” she said.

Band before athletics

As the 2020-21 school year looms on the horizon, among the first teenagers who will be attempting to bring some normalcy to the tune of music are the band students of the Wharton High School Tiger Band.

According to WISD, summer band rehearsals will begin Monday, July 27.

“We will practice Monday through Friday the weeks leading up to school. We will be following University Interscholastic League safety protocol,” WISD said in a prepared statement. “Everyone is required to wear facemasks when applicable; only small sections of the band will be allowed at a time; the band hall will be disinfected between rehearsals; and when playing instruments, members will maintain 10 feet of space between other members.”

The following are times in the afternoon and evening that were provided by WISD to band students based on their instruments or participation: Noon to 1 p.m. flutes; 1:30-2:30 p.m. clarinets; 3-4 p.m. saxophones; 3-5 p.m. color guard; 4:30-5:30 p.m. trumpets and horns; 6-7 p.m. trombones, euphoniums, and tubas; 7:30-8:30 p.m. percussion.

COVID-19 affects

WISD made an announcement to parents/guardians that due to the pandemic, as a safety measure, WHS will have a closed campus for the entire 2020-2021 school year. 

“This means that all students will be required to remain on campus for lunch,” WISD said.

It will put a dent in sales around Wharton, including restaurants, groceries, and retail.

One of those to chime in on the decision was former executive director of the Wharton Economic Development Corporation, David Schoeder. 

He said it “sounds good.”

S.B. Pierson, who is WISD assistant superintendent of school, said all campuses will forgo traditional in-person registration for returning students and use WISD’s PEIMS system to roll over all returning students for this year.

“As long as your child is present in the learning model (face to face or remote) by the third day of school, they will be pre-registered by the system,” Pierson said in a news release. “We ask that if you have any pertinent changes in the information, contact the school to update …”

In the news release, Pierson said  WISD is currently working diligently to devise a plan to maximize the learning opportunities for students while keeping them safe in both face to face and virtual settings.

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