DEL VALLE, Texas (KXAN) — Del Valle ISD is taking the virtual approach to start off the new school year — and they’ve been at it for one week.
District Superintendent Annette Tielle talked to KXAN News Today anchor Tom Miller in our latest Set For School conversation. Here, Tielle talks about the past week, the ones to come — and how she believes students are ready to be back on campuses.
Tom Miller: You’ve been going for about a week so far — how has that first week been?
Annette Tielle: We’ve had an excellent first week. I’m really proud of my teachers and students who spent a lot of time weeks prior to the start of school providing professional development to both our new teachers and our veteran teachers on how to provide virtual instruction.
TM: I saw some video of you personally delivering a laptop to one student. How has it been embracing the whole virtual learning concept?
AT: You have to embrace virtual learning a little differently and you need to make the opportunity for those personal connections. Whether it’s dropping off a laptop at a student’s home, or providing the opportunities for the parents to come to the schools to pick up the technology, or going into classrooms virtually.
TM: What is your plan for students returning to the classroom? And when that happens, do you expect it to be everyone who wants to be there at once? Or will it be a phased return?
AT: We are going to have a phased return. At the end of the eight weeks, our board of trustees approved the additional four weeks beyond what was allowed by TEA. So we will not be returning until October 12 and it will be a phased-in approach. At this point, parents who have been surveyed have indicated that approximately 23% want their students to return — so we’re in the process of purchasing swivel cameras so that our teachers can livestream from the classroom as well as have our students engage remotely.
TM: If and when a staff member or a student is diagnosed with coronavirus, what’s your plan to stop the spread from within the district?
AT: When our students and our teachers do return we’re going to follow the CDC guidelines very closely. If a student or teacher gets there, is tested positive for COVID-19, we’re going follow those guidelines. We’re going to make sure that we have staff and students stay home and quarantine for the appropriate amount of time.
TM: What’s been the biggest challenge for your district so far?
AT: I think the biggest challenge is that the students miss being back in school. That’s something that they’ve told me over and over when I’m jumping into classroom. I hear them telling their teachers that they don’t want to be remote. They want to be back in school.
Tielle says many of her district’s teachers are new and younger, which has its advantages and disadvantages.
In this case, their familiarity with online platforms has helped them transition to virtual teaching more quickly.