School districts navigate next steps to keep students learning during closures

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Education Agency is offering some guidance on how to keep learning going while carrying out Governor Greg Abbott’s order to close school doors.

At least until April 3.

School districts are ultimately responsible for making their own plans. While students are at home enjoying their time off, district officials are in close contact with its teachers and utilizing this time to prepare.

“In Williamson County and other places, district officials are working through spring break to have learning and business continuity plans in place for Monday when students and staff normally would have returned to the campuses,” said Melinda Brasher, Georgetown Independent School District Communications.

KXAN’s Kaitlyn Karmout reached out to the 12 largest school districts in Central Texas.

Only a few responded, saying they’ll have supplemental resources as early as Monday.

Round Rock ISD says by Monday, you can expect to see online resources — but also grade-level hard copy packets that they’ll hand out with curbside breakfast and lunch services for those who qualify. That’s how they’re trying to address the reality that some students don’t have access to computers or internet access at home.

San Marcos ISD promises specific information on daily assignments and instructional resources by March 30.

They’ll also have information on where to pick up hard copies for those with limited access to technology. The district says they’re also buying Wi-Fi hotspots for some households; principals will have that information.

Hays CISD is also organized on its website. The district has specific sections there for home learning, meal services and employee information.

Meanwhile, teachers are trying to figure out what online school could look like for them.

“It’s kind of heartbreaking. I’ll miss my students. I’ll miss the interaction,” said Jen Dupont, River Ridge Elementary School Teacher. “I don’t really think we know what it’s suppose to look like. In my classroom, we utilize technology quite a bit. Leander ISD went to 1:1 technology for 3rd through 5th grade this year.”

Jen Dupont teaches at River Ridge Elementary, a district with more then 35,000 students that may soon have to transform too.

“I don’t know what it’ll look like for the younger students who don’t have exposure to online learning,” Dupont says.

She says the district is telling her new lessons won’t be introduced for anything parents can’t assist with.

“We’re using this time to do things kids have already been learning in school,” said Dupont. “Perhaps do some challenge-type activities.”

For parents, she wants to make one thing clear.

“I don’t want to overwhelm parents. I just keep trying to tell them… I’m not expecting you to do the job of a teacher,” said Dupont. “I’m not even expecting it to look like a full school day. I think that’s unrealistic. An hour or two. Maybe that’s the best case scenario, I think.”

As for the districts that didn’t respond to KXAN’s request for information, most of them are still on Spring Break, staff included.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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