Lamar Consolidated ISD and Needville ISD are waiting to hear what the government has to say before they consider reopening campuses, the school chiefs said during a Facebook Live town hall meeting on Wednesday.
Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered schools closed until May 4 to help combat the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus sweeping the globe.
Supt. Dr. Thomas Randle and Curtis Rhodes said LCISD and Needville ISD can complete the school year by continuing to offer education remotely.
“We’re collaborating with our state and local officials and will make our decision based on what they have to say,” Randle said. “Our graduation is set for June 4 so we have quite a bit of time left in our school year. (But) We’re prepared to continue to teach online the rest of the year.”
Rhodes said Needville ISD was also awaiting word from local and state governments concerning the lifting of stay home orders.
However, he sees no reason for students to return to classes this spring.
“Why bring someone back on May 4th when we just got remote learning going?” Rhodes asked.
Besides, he said, Needville ISD doesn’t “want to become a football in a political debate between Democrats and Republicans.”
“We want to make sure our people are safe and students don’t regress (in their studies),” he said.
Randle agreed that any decision to reopen schools would be based on protecting students, faculty and staff.
Randle said LCISD’s in-home schooling program via the internet and paper pick-up/drop-off has proven successful.
He said the school board, supported by the community, has always invested in technology and therefore had purchased a large number of electronic tablets and i-Pads ahead of the pandemic.
That has helped to ensure that most students could continue their education from home via the internet, he said.
He said the school district surveyed parents last month to see how many of their homes had internet capability and electronic tablets. Those that didn’t have tablets were provided one. Those without internet are provided paper packets of daily worksheets and exercises.
Rhodes said internet access in Needville is spotty at best.
He said 80% of high school students are studying online and the rest by paper pick-up. However, about 60% of middle school students are picking up paper work assignments, mostly because of poor broadband internet connectivity.
One parent asked Randle why in-home schooling didn’t mirror in-class education.
Randle said that some parents cannot be home all day to keep an eye on their student as teachers do in classrooms.
Thus, Randle said, students are given a flexible schedule to complete their work assignments so that their parents can play a role in their education.
He said teachers contact students via internet, text message or phone call periodically to check their progress or answer questions.
Rhodes said his faculty also has maintained a successful dialogue with parents and students to ensure in-home schooling is successful.
“We have open communications between (educators) and families,” he said.
“We’re reaching out to them. Our staff has done an outstanding job communicating with them.”
Randle said the school district staff is working to ensure that students log on to the internet each day to study or turn in their homework.
Rhodes said Needville ISD has had little drop off of student productivity even though students are now studying at home.
Both school chiefs said their faculty and staffs morale is high despite the odd circumstances.