The White Oak ISD school board on Monday approved allowing Superintendent Brian Gray to make temporary changes to the grading policy because of COVID-19.

The virtual meeting was livestreamed to the district’s website to comply with social distancing procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gray said the policy he wants to put in place is a pass/fail system that will not affect students’ class rank.

The senior class completed the third nine weeks before the closure, and the valedictorian, salutatorian and top 10% are set, Gray said. But a numerical grade still will be entered for classes, because colleges will not accept a “P” or “F.”

The numerical grade will not affect the overall average the student would have had if school had stayed in session, he said. For students who participate to the best extent their circumstances {span}allow, grades will not be skewed, he said. Instead, the district will use the scores the student had the previous grading period.

The grading system is about fairness so students with and without resources can succeed, he said.

“Everything that has transpired to this point is totally beyond their control. It’s not within the hands of our students,” Gray said. “We do not want our kids to be penalized for stuff beyond their control.”

He said if a student made an effort and did their work, their GPA will not be affected.

The board also approved filing a waiver related to teacher evaluations.

Gray said several districts in the state were not able to complete all their evaluations before the COVID-19 closures. The evaluations are legally required, he said, and the districts have received waivers to file to excuse not completing the evaluations.

Only one teacher in the district did not get a final evaluation, Gray said, which puts White Oak in a better position than most districts.

The board also approved a new emergency closure resolution. The change extends the closure date through May.

During his superintendent’s report, Gray said the district now is averaging about 260 meals distributed a day, which is an increase from the beginning of the closure.

He also said the district is expecting at least two prekindergarten classes for the 2020-21 school year.

The state approved funding full-day prekindergarten in the last legislative session, but White Oak ISD was approved to start the program in 2020-21.

Gray said the district could even need to increase to three classes, and he is looking into facilities to recommend to the board to house the classes.

The White Oak High School Student Council also received a national recognition, he said. The students earned a National Gold Medal of Excellence from the National Student Council.

“That’s the highest honor that a student council can receive,” he said. “And we’re proud of them.”