Eagle Update: August 21, 2020

Barton Hills Elementary

Hello BHE Families:

This has been a great week at BHE. Our teaching staff returned virtually to work this week and we've had time together to learn more about using our learning management system, BLEND (Canvas), and other tools to create meaningful and relevant remote learning experiences for our students. We have such a strong team assembled to take on this work and I am excited about their ideas and the ways we're thinking about connecting with our students when we begin school on September 8th. The staff being together once again has me very much looking forward to the beginning of the school year and I hope our students are beginning to feel that too!

Update from Mr. Mills

Greetings Barton Hills Families!

This is Damien Mills, the assistant principal at Barton Hills Elementary. We are excited to kick off the school year and begin working with our outstanding students! We are looking forward to seeing our returning students and families, but are also incredibly excited to welcome all of you who are new to our campus this year! Our entire team is eager to begin supporting your children and giving you our very best each and every day!

As assistant principal, I am responsible for supporting our staff, students, and families in many different ways. However, there are some specific roles I have that are critical in making sure that we serve all students. Those roles are 504 Coordinator, GT Coordinator, and Language Proficiency Assessment Committee (LPAC)/ESL Chairperson. I wanted to take a moment to provide some updates and information for those of you that have children that may be directly impacted by the above-mentioned programs.

Language Proficiency Assessment Committee (LPAC)

As LPAC chair, I am responsible for making sure that our campus appropriately and effectively serves students that are identified as Emergent Bilingual. You will see that moving forward the district is moving away from using the term English Learner, as we believe knowledge of another language is a strength, so students that are served in an English as a Second Language program (ESL) will be referred to as Emergent Bilingual. Families of new to AISD students that need to be assessed for English language proficiency will be contacted prior to the start of the school year so they know when their child will be tested. Results from these initial assessments will help us determine if a student will benefit from ESL services/support in the classroom. Families of students from last year that are currently identified as Emergent Bilingual and may be ready to exit the program will be contacted once the school year starts with next steps in how that process will be completed as we had to delay some of those decisions due to school closures back in the spring. In addition, all students that are currently identified as Emergent Bilingual will continue to be supported through ESL.

Section 504

All students currently receiving accommodations through Section 504 will continue to be served based on their most recent accommodation and continuity plans. In-district transfers will have their plans carry over and implemented without any issues. If you are brand new to AISD and have a 504 plan, please be sure to provide copies of any documentation you may have to help our team accurately reflect these services in your child’s file. If you have a child that receives 504 support for dyslexia/reading from a reading specialist then that teacher will communicate with you prior to the start of the school year to discuss what things will look like during virtual learning. In addition, all 504 meetings will be held virtually for the time being. We are still awaiting information related to pending and newly requested testing and evaluations and will provide updates once we receive that information from the district. Lastly, documentation for 504 will look slightly different this year as the district has migrated to a new online database/system. This will not impact your child’s 504 plan in any way but I want to make sure families know that 504 documents such as meeting notices, accommodation plans, etc. will look different due to the format of our new system.

GT and Talent Explore Information

For students that are currently identified as GT or Talent Explore, services will continue to be delivered through the GT Cluster model of instruction. This means that a GT certified teacher will be providing enrichment and appropriate content and instruction recommended by our district advanced academics department to your child. Teachers will provide a GT service summary at the end of each semester to update you on what is being offered in the classroom.

Due to the school year starting virtually and possibly continuing in that format for many students after the first couple of weeks of school, the GT nomination and testing calendar and procedures for the 2020-2021 school year have been adjusted. The following are important dates to know if you are interested in having your child take part in the GT/Talent Explore identification process:

September 21st-October 2nd GT referral window (Parents and Teachers can submit nominations)

October 5th-13th Parent observation forms will be sent home and collected

October 13th-30th Teacher observations, assessments, work samples collection

November 2nd-20th Campus GT Committee reviews data/makes placement decisions

November 30th-December 16th Parents notified via letter of placement decisions

January 6th Services for newly identified GT and Talent Explore students starts

Nomination and parent observation forms will be made available when the referral window opens. More information about AISD GT programs can be found at: https://www.austinisd.org/advanced-academics

Whew! Thank you all for reviewing any information that applies to you. I of course am always available to address any questions or concerns you may have about anything. I will always do my absolute best to get back to you as soon as possible!


Damien Mills

Reopening Reminders

And, while I've shared this with you before, I do want to make sure everyone has the most up to date information about school opening. Austin ISD released the most comprehensive overview of our reopening plans, and we encourage you to review the document that addresses specific areas. Please click here for the AISD Reopening Plan. I've also included some of the basic need-to-know information about the start of school below:

  • The first day of school is now Sept. 8.
  • The first four weeks, from Sept. 8 to Oct. 5, will be remote. If your student needs access to technology, please contact us at 512-414-2013 as soon as possible. We've had a dedicated team of folks reaching out to families this week to ask about technology access and to provide direct support for getting devices. In fact, some of you may have already been called. :)
  • The next four weeks, from Oct. 5 to Oct. 30, will be a phase-in period. Families will choose if they prefer on-campus or virtual learning for this period and families who prefer on-campus learning will be phased in. We will continue to base our campus and district operations on the advice of health authorities. It is important to note: even students who choose on-campus instruction may have some days where they are still doing remote learning during this period.
  • Families will choose if they prefer on-campus or remote instruction within two weeks of returning to campuses Oct. 5 via a form that will be sent to your email.
  • Austin ISD families will be able to choose to go back to remote learning based on their individual comfort level.

As always, if you have questions or need assistance getting technology, please don't hesitate to reach out. I appreciate each of you who form this strong and supportive community, even amidst the uncertainties we're currently all facing right now! Please do continue to check for communication from AISD (austinisd.org/covid) and from the school as we get closer to the beginning of the year. Stay safe and healthy, everyone!

Upcoming Dates

September 2nd (at the latest) - Homeroom Welcome letters emailed to parents

September 2nd - 6:30 pm PTA Parent Support Series

September 3 - Drive By Hi

September - First Day of School - Remote Start for the first four weeks

AISD Mobile App

Austin ISD is happy to announce the launch of our mobile app—a new way to stay connected.

The app will allow all AISD students, staff and families to receive notifications from the district and campuses for which they wish to subscribe.

Other helpful tools include a COVID-19 self-screening for users to complete before coming into contact with others or before leaving home for work or school.

The app allows for quick access to:

  • see the calendar for the current school year,
  • links to
    • Parent Cloud
    • Parent Self Serve
    • WheresTheBus
    • School Café,
    • the School Directory, and
    • the latest news.

Locate the free Austin ISD Mobile App in the digital store for your mobile device by searching for Austin ISD.

For questions concerning the new app, call 512–414–9187.


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