Following an executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott, both Sherman Independent School District and Denison Independent School District announced that district campuses and offices will remain closed through April to limit potential exposure of students to the Coronavirus.


“I want to inform you that with the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in our state, Sherman ISD schools and district offices will remain closed and will not reopen until Monday, May 4, 2020,“ SISD Superintendent David Hicks said. ”Our closure is being extended to help reduce the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and is required by Executive Order from Governor Greg Abbott.”


The announcement from the Governor’s office came Tuesday as part of an expansion of a previous order that called for Texas residents to limit non-essential gatherings throughout April to assist in containing the spread of the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. A subsection of the announcement added that Texas schools would remain closed until at least May 4.


“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. “Now it is time to redouble our efforts to reduce further exposure as much as possible and flatten the curve.”


In mid-March, SISD announced that it would be extending its spring break amid fears of the Coronavirus. This was later extended through the remainder of the month, with teachers instructed to start teaching through the District’s Distance Learning program.


Last week, teachers began conducting their classes remotely using online instruction and packets for students who did not have internet access.


While last week saw the roll out of primary courses, the district moved all electives to a remote format starting this week.


“What our SISD team members, parents, community volunteers, and business leaders have accomplished in the last two weeks is truly inspirational,” Hicks said in the letter. “Our teachers have created innovative ways to stay connected with our students and parents through online lessons, video conferences, personal calls and letters, and even neighborhood caravans.


“Athletic performance challenges have been issued, and our students have posted hundreds of pictures of themselves completing assignments, practicing their instruments, and even reading in their pajamas!”


In response to the order extending the district closure, Hicks said the district will be continuing its remote feeding program through the month. Students will be able to pick up breakfast and lunch from seven campuses, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


The participating campuses include: Fred Douglass Early Childhood Center, Neblett Elementary, Washington Elementary, Perrin Learning Center, Crutchfield Elementary, Wakefield Elementary and Piner Middle School.


In addition to the curbside service, the district will be dropping off meals at four additional campuses on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


At these drop off locations, students will be able to pick up breakfast and lunch for two days.


These locations include: Constitution Village and Old Settlers Park, from 10 a.m. until 10:45 a.m., and the Shadow Mountain Mobile Home Park office and Hilltop Apartments office from 11 a.m through 11:45 a.m.


With the end of the year approaching, along with many spring events, Hicks said SISD is working to reschedule as many events as possible, rather than canceling them completely.


“For our students, and especially our seniors, the spring months include many academic, career & technical, fine arts, and extracurricular athletic activities. While there are still too many unknowns related to our national health crisis, I want you to know we are committed to postponing rather than canceling as many of our spring activities as practical,“ Hicks said, referring to prom, graduation and the annual eighth grade dance, among other events.


For more information on the district’s response, please visit www.shermanisd.net/covid19.


In response to the mandate, DISD also announced that it would remain closed through at least May 1, which falls on a Friday.


“In addition, there will be no extra-curricular activities during the extended closure,” the district said in a press release. “Every effort must be taken to slow the spread of the COVID-19. The safety of our students and staff remains our top priority.”


During the interim, students will continue to receive at-home instruction and the district will continue its meal delivery through the end of the month.


“Denison ISD is so very proud of the extra efforts given by our educators to produce at-home lessons,” the district said. “Likewise, the district is appreciative of our partnership with our families as they help to develop these at-home lessons to ensure the continued academic growth of our students.”


For more information on Denison’s response, please visit. www.denisonisd.net.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.


For more coronavirus related news, visit http://www.HeraldDemocrat.com/coronavirus.