Round Rock ISD plans 4-phase approach to returning students to campus

Set for School

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the district is working on a four-phase approach to returning students to campus

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — The Round Rock Independent School District is planning a four-phase approach to returning students to schools.

On Thursday night, board members had a long discussion on how to reopen campuses, and the superintendent intends to leverage the fourth week of virtual learning to put the plan in place.

RRISD staff presented a phased reopening plan to the board during the meeting. The district’s current phase had students begin virtual learning on Thursday, Aug. 20. In Phase 2, staff proposed bringing back students in self-contained special education settings starting Thursday, Sept. 10. According to RRISD, that will be about 500 students, or 1% of the student population. Parents will be contacted if their student is eligible.

On Sept. 15, students who opt-in for in-person learning can return, while all others stay virtual. That means about 30% of students will be back on campus, RRISD said.

The latest Round Rock parent survey shows about 70% of parents elected to keep their students virtual, with about 30% hoping to go back to school in-person. RRISD says the online learning option will stay for those who choose it.

All members and the superintendent agreed on the plan.

The board said it is monitoring both Travis County’s and Williamson County’s COVID-19 recommendations.

“I just want to be back in school where I can talk to a teacher in person, instead of over Google Meet,” said Round Rock sophomore Reagan Vandergrift. “I understand medical concerns. I understand, my mom works in a doctor’s office. Staying at home, that leads to mental health issues. They asked for our opinion, and they are not listening.”

Parents and students rally Thursday in support of in-person learning. The majority of the signs read “Virtual Learning gets a Failing Grade.”

Vandergrift walked away from her online learning early Thursday morning to rally at Round Rock High School in support of going back to campus.

“I have ADHD. Online schooling has been very hard for me, since I don’t have the teachers at home to keep me on track. I’m also working home alone, because my mom has to go to work. It is really hard to keep myself in track, even when I do take my medicine,” said Vandergrift.

Round Rock parent April Brinson is among the 30% of parents who want their children to be able to return to school in person.

(KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)

“We are failing our students, we are failing our parents, and we are failing our taxpayers,” said Brinson. “The people who cannot be at school should absolutely have accommodations.”

Brinson and her entire family got COVID-19. Initially, she says she was more than willing to sacrifice her children’s education in order to flatten the curve.

“The curve has been flattened here locally. It’s not that my kids don’t like online schooling. My kids like cotton candy, but I’m a parent. It’s my job to make sure my kids are challenged — school isn’t supposed to be easy,” said Brinson.

Christina Gandara also has children who struggle with online learning.

“Given the numbers are going down… open school,” said Gandara. “Open school safely—I believe that we can do that.”

(KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)

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