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OPEN CAMPUS: Pittsburg ISD superintendent Terry Waldrep shares insight from start of school

Updated: Sep. 2, 2020 at 10:53 PM CDT
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CAMP COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - The reopening of schools this year is a big challenge for students, parents, teachers and administrators. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there is understandable concern on all sides.

Tonight, we continue our project called Open Campus. It is our effort to take you inside East Texas school campuses to learn what all parties are saying and feeling during this time of unprecedented adjustment.

Lane Luckie: “We’ll start with what was your biggest concern heading into the Fall semester and how is this now playing out now that we’re in the third week of school?”

Terry Waldrep, Supt., Pittsburg ISD: “Well, Lane, I think the biggest thing for all of us was -- hoping that we could get back to school. You know, I think we all had our doubts during the Spring and throughout the Summer -- of what school was going to look like. And being able to get kids back in the classroom and our teachers were looking forward to seeing the kids and getting them there. That was obviously our biggest concern. But then putting together our plans to make sure the students and the faculty and staff and everybody was safe. Everything was different, you know.

Things that we’ve done in the past are not the same this year. And so you had to make plans to change almost every aspect of your day. So I guess making sure that that we didn’t leave any stone unturned and making sure we covered all of our bases for our students and our staff, heading into school. And really it’s been a smooth start. Our teachers, our administrators, and even our community. Our parents have been so supportive and everybody’s worked so hard to get our kids back in school. We will be finishing our third week in school on Thursday and everything has gone really well.”

LL: “In your opinion what role does a school district play in educating the public about health and safety practices. How do you ensure that the hygiene you’re teaching in the classroom to the students is reinforced when they get home?”

TW: “Sure. A big part of our plan and putting our plan in place coming back to school was centering around mitigation and understanding what the definitions are of social distancing, close contact, and those type of things. And then how to how to prevent yourself from being exposed and keeping yourself safe while you’re on campus. Our teachers did a good job explaining that to the students. We put that in our plans that were put out put out before school started. We send out a lot of messages and communications through Facebook and constant reminders. So you know it’s just been a it’s been an effort by everyone -- teachers, students, parents, community members -- to get that message out. I think we’ve all communicated well and everybody’s responding to it really well. We’re all learning. We’ve learned a lot since it started back last Spring. It’s still a learning process. We’re still evaluating and looking at things daily and readjusting as we need to.”

LL: “Which aspects of Pittsburg ISD’s COVID-19 protocols could you envision sticking around after the pandemic?”

TW: “Well, I think as far as some of the way we’ve done some of the scheduling in school, spreading out some of our classes, getting our student numbers down -- as far as teacher ratios and classes. The way we handle arriving in the mornings and dismissals in the afternoon by staggering some of the times has really helped on busing and parent pick-up and drop-off. The way we handle things in the cafeteria. Cutting the numbers down as far as number of kids in the cafeteria at one time has really helped. There have been a lot of positives that I think will continue uh long after the COVID is over.”

LL: “Superintendent Terry Waldrep of Pittsburg ISD, we appreciate your insight.”

TW: “Thank you. Thanks for having me on.”

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