Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired starts in-person classes


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is ready to head back to the classroom for in-person classes Monday, but they’re facing unique challenges with the pandemic.

“Mary Rose is waking up every morning eager to start classes on Zoom,” said Patty Bushland, whose daughter Mary Rose goes to the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

On Aug. 17, the school started with virtual classes, which lasted four weeks.

“I do a lot of reading and math,” Mary Rose said.

Most of the lessons involve Zoom calls and specialized lesson plans.

“Zoom for many of our students isn’t about participating visually, but it is auditory and listening to the conversation and participating in that way,” said Daniel Wheeler, the instructional technology coordinator for TSBVI.

Out of the 130 full time students, 30 will attend class on campus while the rest continue virtually.

“Our kids have some really unique educational needs some of which can’t really be met fully in a remote environment,” Superintendent Emily Coleman said.

Like most schools, they will follow safety guidelines like requiring masks and limiting class size, but their guidelines will be tailored to fit their students. They will work with students to teach them ways to keep their distance and also ask their students to rely more on their canes, not their hands.

While washing your hands is a must, they will also ask students to wash their canes as well.

“We are bringing kids in, but also making safety a priority,” Coleman said.

Coleman says social interactions are important for the students, but some in-person programs will have to be put on hold.

“We have a grocery store program where kids go out almost every day,” Coleman said. “We have restaurant programs where kids go out to eat all the time so we are suspending those.”

The school plans to slowly bring back more students over time if they are able to keep everyone safe.

Other districts in the area beginning in-person classes Monday are:

  • Dripping Springs ISD
  • Hutto ISD
  • Lockhart ISD
  • Manor ISD
  • Pflugerville ISD

Manor and Pflugerville school districts are allowing some students to take part in a hybrid model where they take classes both on campus and online.

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