GRANGER, Texas - For Granger ISD officials, they have been working since the spring of last year, planning on getting kids back to campus for the start of school.
School for the Lions has been fully on campus since the start of the school year. The district says this is due to the COVID-19 safety protocols that are in place, as well as teachers who have gone above and beyond.
"Really with all the precautions in place that we've continued to enforce throughout the year and are still enforcing it has been able to minimize spread on campus," said Tara Resla, principal for Granger Elementary.
Throughout the schools, there are temperature checks, students and staff are required to wear masks and air purifiers are in each classroom. The district is also registered as an on-campus testing site for COVID-19. They're able to test teachers and faculty. They say that this can quickly provide feedback and help contact-trace if there are any cases.
However, the district said there hasn't been any major outbreak at any of the schools saying the majority of the cases come from the outside, and the cases make up less than 1%.
"The precautions have been critical to allowing us to keep our students safe and to provide them the education they deserve," Resla said.
For the teachers, they said the time they were remote was challenging. They had to figure out new systems, how to get students to work remotely, all while doing it from home themselves.
"Whenever we got to come back to campus, even though we still had some remote students...we were a lot more in our comfort zone, we were in our teaching zone," said Ashley Sessums, a 4th grade teacher.
Sessums said one of the hardest parts for her was not being able to be hands-on when helping her students learn.
"Wandering around the classroom I can see somebody's face scrunched up," she said. "I go right beside them and I'm trying to figure out with them where they're stuck, I can't do that if they are remote."
She said that working with students remotely, that changed and she figured out how to make it more of a check-in system to see how they are doing.
"Then if they do get stuck on something, trying to problem solve with them so I can explain it in a way that they are going to understand," she said.
Tiffany Michalik, who also teaches 4th grade alongside Sessums, said they relied heavily on Google Classrooms but tried to make it fun for the kids. For example, when they would fill out daily attendance forms, she would add in ice breakers or prompts.
Now, students are back on campus, and the two teachers are still trying to be innovative when it comes to teaching - like, spreading out small groups or finding ways to be interactive.
"They need to be away from the screen, they need to hands on, building things, they need to be talking to one another," Sessums said.
And while the "new normal" for these students includes wearing masks, socially distancing, and working behind plexiglass screens, the teachers say that the students are glad to be back on campus and excited to learn.