AUSTIN, Texas - The coronavirus pandemic has brought on many challenges, changing life as we know it. That includes how kids go to school. “We opened our school year remotely which is really unique,” said Cristina Nguyen, senior communications specialist at Austin ISD.
Austin ISD had an August start date but pushed it to Sept 8. The first four weeks will be all virtual. After that, parents will have more options.
“They will have the option of coming on campus in a phased in way. They can continue learning remotely off campus, and our high school students have the opportunity to do a hybrid version of that, some days on campus some days from home,” said Nguyen.
The first day wasn't without its tech glitches, the district tweeting they experienced a Google Drive outage. “Having such an enormous strain on the system creates challenges,” said Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin.
Zarifis is thankful that the district chose to stay virtual for a while longer, and thanked the teachers for rolling with the punches.
“I applaud the teachers in this district for going through so many complicated and confusing emails and directions, superintendent, new superintendent and through all that being able to put together lessons for kids on this very first day of the most insane school year that we will ever deal with,” he said.
Not all districts in the area are staying virtual. We spoke to Leander ISD which decided to phase in some sixth-graders Tuesday. “Right now we have students who chose to be virtually all school year and we have students who have chosen to be in person. Seventh-grade phases in Sept. 21 and eighth-grade phases in on Sept 28,” said Koller.
Leander ISD students who are in classrooms will be instructed by the teacher simultaneously with their virtual peers. Koller is glad to have the kids back.
“I’ve seen nothing but masks but I assume smiling faces behind the masks, smiling eyes,” said Koller.
School as we know it won't be the same for a while, but educators are glad to see their students again, be virtual or in person.