PFLUGERVILLE, Texas - Wieland Elementary’s hallways were quiet, missing the excitement and laughter students carry into the start of the new year. The Pflugerville district adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by starting the first day of school online.
Wieland’s Principal Jared Stevenson was on site making sure everything ran smoothly for teachers, staff and families. “The first day of school is about getting to know you, building connections, building relationships, understanding class procedures and expectations,” said Stevenson. “We are doing all of that, we are just doing it remotely.“
Stephanie Gloria was able to engage with her pre-k students online from her classroom. “This morning we were practicing unmuting our microphones on Zoom instead of learning how to stand in a line and learning how to use the bathroom so that’s different,” Gloria said.
Gloria invited each student in her early classroom meeting to bring their favorite toy. She said it helps comfort the shy ones. Virtual learning can be difficult especially for little ones and parents who are still learning how to navigate programs like Google Classroom and Seesaw.
Gloria said not all of her students were able to attend the first class Wednesday. “I had about half of them, then when I contacted parents that were not able to make it some of them are having some internet struggles,” said Gloria. “I think it’s just because at this point school has reopened and everyone’s trying to get on Zoom for their learning platform whatever that maybe.”
The first three weeks of school for all Pflugerville ISD students will be online.
The district is waiting for approval from TEA to add several more weeks of virtually learning. However, not every family has access to reliable internet. It was an issue Yaya Silla encountered when she was attempting to get both of her kids logged in online. Her elementary school provided mobile devices but her internet was spotty.
Silla took her children to Starbucks and between the three of them she was able to help guide them with their online work. “It would be very helpful if all the districts would provide a mobile hotspot for everyone so we don’t have to worry about this,’ said Silla. “I have two kids and it’s kind of like I’m their teacher at the same time. Well I go to school too so I just have to be really organized and prioritize and figure out a way to be able to do what they have to do and get them connected throughout the day.”
A spokesperson with Pflugerville ISD said they’ve spent the past few days handing out mobile devices to families and are working on providing mobile hotspots. Parents can utilize wifi outside in school parking lots. In the meantime, Silla said she may be returning to Starbucks.
The district is also providing families with meal pick-up and on campus daycare for parents who do not have the means to be at home with their children for online learning. Gloria is asking parents to have patience as the district operates throughout the pandemic.
“Students should still be excited about school, our staff and teachers and everybody is working overtime at this point to make sure that they have the best experience,” said Gloria. “They will still get their learning done this year even though it looks and feels a little bit different.”
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