JACKSONVILLE, Texas (KLTV) - This month, many students across East Texas will return to school. In Jacksonville ISD and across the state, their fall return plan follows the Texas Education Agency guideline of allowing students and parents to choose between at-home learning and on-campus learning. For students fifth grade and up that choose to return to campus, masks will be worn, with some exceptions.
“If they are socially distanced, let’s say we have 10 students in a classroom and the classroom is big enough to have each student six feet apart, well yeah they can pull them down while they do their independent work, but if they’re gonna do any group work or group activities, they are to put their mask back on to stay as protected as possible,” Jacksonville ISD Superintendent Dr. Chad Kelly said.
At West Side Elementary School in Jacksonville, desks are spaced out as much as possible and a new entry procedure is in place to limit potential exposure. During the day, students are used to rotating classrooms, but now, the teachers are coming to them.
“We’re gonna be moving the music and art teacher and moving computer carts into the classrooms where those students don’t transfer from class to class,” Dr. Kelly said.
Also new this year ─ the addition of teachers specifically for students who choose remote learning. That teacher will communicate with them virtually throughout the day and their lessons will coincide with those of students who are in the classroom.
“What we try to do is mirror our instructional levels, so if a student who is remote learning wants to come back, they’re not behind and they’re not ahead of their fellow students in the classroom,” Dr. Kelly said.
In their fall plan, JISD says they encourage students to choose face-to-face learning.
“That’s what we do best. That’s what we’ve geared for for the last 150 years and that’s what our teachers’ specialties are. This is something that’s gonna be new and new instructional model that we’re gonna be working really hard to make sure that we’re the best at running it,” Dr. Kelly said.
Dr. Kelly says four Jacksonville ISD teachers have resigned or retired, some due to COVID-19 concerns, though the majority are looking forward to getting back in the classroom. However, he says risks still remain.
“Now are there gonna be issues that happen? Are students going to get COVID-19? Absolutely. And it’s how do we react to those and how do we isolate those other students and ensure that that one student that has COVID is taken care of,” Dr. Kelly said.
Dr. Kelly says 25% of Jacksonville ISD students have chosen remote learning, while the other 75% will learn in the classroom.
Their first day of school is August 18.