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Press Release from JISD Superintendent Mr. Barnwell

Posted Date: 05/06/2020



Press Release/Statement from JISD Superintendent Rob Barnwell:





I first want to say I am saddened about how the spring semester of the 2019-20 school year is ending.  Instruction, experiences, and events have all been disrupted and I know it has been hard for students, parents, and staff.  It is certainly an odd time for us all, and I pray that all members of our Bulldog family and communities stay safe and healthy. 


Today, Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference to address new expectations as the state moves forward with plans to gradually “re-open” various Texas businesses and other entities.  A part of his announcement included guidelines associated with graduation ceremonies for school districts.  Although indoor ceremonies will not be allowed, Governor Abbott said school districts will have a small amount of discretion regarding graduation events.  He also mentioned his orders/guidelines are subject to change, depending on the pandemic data he receives as time passes.  


At this point, unless anything changes, school districts have four options to consider regarding graduation ceremonies.  First, virtual events (through the use of technology, live-streaming, and/or other online-based platforms) are allowable and districts may proceed with those types of events as planned.  Also, “Hybrid” types of ceremonies may occur after May 15th. These would include plans districts may have to video individual students/families as they receive their diplomas and/or deliver speeches at designated areas.  Then, after filming everyone as appropriate, those videos may be edited and compiled to be shown at a common venue, such as a football stadium, (in districts which may be fortunate enough to have huge video screens at the football stadiums which can accommodate such). Thirdly, he also said that vehicle-based events are allowable after May 15th.  Examples of this would be parades or drive-in movie types of scenarios which would require each student and their families to remain in their vehicles for most of the event.  Lastly, Governor Abbott said a district could choose to have a “traditional” (outside) graduation ceremony as long as specific social distancing requirements are met.  This option can be taken AFTER June 1st, 2020.  


I will be working with High School Principal Michael Walker, other administrators, board members, and other stakeholders in order to come up with a plan for Jefferson ISD.  We are researching this subject and plan to gather information from our senior students in order to provide the best event possible.  We believe graduation is an important milestone in the lives of our students, and we want to do our best to provide a memorable and safe event that will be embraced by our seniors and their families.  Obviously, an outside ceremony offers the most ‘personal’ option, but there will be many social distancing and safety guidelines to consider, communicate and follow. As soon as a plan is developed, I will provide an updated press release to help inform everyone regarding the date, time, site, and type of graduation ceremony that will be held, along with the guidelines Governor Abbott has ordered us to follow. This information will also be posted on our school’s website and Facebook page. Obviously, we will also be in close contact with the seniors and their parents as this plan is developed and communicated.


As you know, JISD began remote instruction and meal delivery several weeks ago, and those efforts should continue through the last day of school on May 22nd.  I want to take this opportunity to encourage all our students, parents, and staff to continue to be diligent regarding schoolwork.  It is very important that students gain the essential knowledge and master the necessary concepts in order to be prepared for the challenges that come along with promotion to the next grade level.  Therefore, now is a critical time.  Students, your promotion to the next grade level depends on the grades you accumulated through the 3rd nine weeks of school in addition to the work you do (and the progress you make) throughout the rest of this school year.  You all should be in communication with your teachers, principals, or other administrators.  Please do not hesitate to visit with those staff members should you have any questions or issues related to instruction, school work, food provision, or anything else.  


I want to thank all of you for your support of our district.  Please feel free to contact my office should you have any questions or concerns. (903-665-2461)   


Be Smart, Stay Healthy, and Go Dawgs!!  


Rob Barnwell

JISD Superintendent  


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The Jefferson Independent School District is proud to announce a district-wide change in policy of serving meals to children under the National School Lunch Program and National School Breakfast Program for the 2019 – 2020 school year.  Jefferson I.S.D. is now eligible to operate the Community Eligbility Provision (CEP), which provides free breakfast and lunch to all children at no charge and eliminates the collection of meal applications for free, reduced-price, and paid student meals.   The approach reduces burdens for families and school administrators and helps ensure that student receive meals.