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Equity-Focused Attendance Phase-In

Prioritizing access to in-person learning for students with greatest need


As Ector County Independent School District leaders began to plan for return to school, they knew they needed to offer students with the greatest need the most immediate access to learning. For this reason, they prioritized re-entry in phases.

“We started with the hybrid environment…and we phased our students in over time. The first day of school we had 4,200 students [who] received the primary investment of a face-to-face opportunity. We lived in that world for two weeks.” - Scott Muri, Superintendent, Ector County ISD

This approach was so successful that leaders are now imagining how to phase in attendance to acclimate students more gradually and with greater support in future school years.


Given hybrid learning and return plans, the district began the school year with only one-in-eight students in person, beginning the process first for those without internet access, students with learning differences and language needs, and students experiencing homelessness. Following this phase, students were brought back in six additional phases, beginning with youngest students and entering high schoolers.

This phase-in approach helped leaders realize the value of prioritizing access and helping the students who most need support acclimate.

“We're going to phase our kids in next year. We've learned through the pandemic that phase-in helps children, especially sixth graders and ninth graders, ease into their new schools. Wow, imagine if kids had several days to adjust and acclimate and get to know their new environment, develop those relationships before they're inundated with other older kids? And so now our school calendar permanently, if you will, is a phased-in calendar because it's the right thing to do for kids.” - Scott Muri

This strategy is a part of TLA's Hop, Skip, Leapfrog release, which explores the concrete ways in which schools and systems pursued student-centered innovation during COVID-19. Explore the full guide to find additional strategies, insights, and resources.

Strategy Resources

Ector County SY 20-21 Attendance Phases

Ector County Independent School District brought students back for learning in phases based on needs... Learn More

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