Aransas Pass ISD Wants Students Back In Class

Aransas Pass ISD Wants Students Back In Class
Posted on 09/29/2020
This is the image for the news article titled Aransas Pass ISD Wants Students Back In ClassThe COVID-19 pandemic has led to a confusing time for many, and maybe even more so for students, parents and teachers, as they try to navigate through the new school year.

"I think the biggest challenge was working with our teachers to ensure they had what they needed to make this type of shift. They basically, in a few weeks/months, had to recreate what the educational process looked like. They had very little time to be trained so we tried to provide as much access to them as possible. They had to think of very creative ways and stretch themselves like they have never been stretched before," said Aransas Pass Independent School District (APISD) Superintendent Cara Cooke.

This is going to be a very challenging school year, not only for the students, but for the teachers as well.

"This year has been unbelievable because we came back two weeks before kids, and we learned Google classroom, and we learned our Google meets, which for me, 35th year, jumping into something brand new is like I am a first-year teacher again. You know what? Our goal is to do what is best for these kids. Like right now, some still don’t have devices; we are navigating our way through that," said APISD 11th grade US History teacher Marchelle Conway.

As far as virtual learning goes, the District said it did anticipate network capacity challenges and hoped to have all of the devices ready for students by early September. However, the delivery of more than 1,000 Chromebooks for the District’s students has been delayed.

"We found, refurbished, about 620 laptops, and we have on order about 1,500 Chromebooks coming in. Some of the laptops we had to reimage and redo and put Chrome on them. The plan was to at least get something for each family out there, and once these devices come in, we will be able to pull those back and give each student their own device. We do have an order of MyFi's coming in, and again, those were delayed too with the coronavirus, the shipping, and everything else. We are just waiting for those to complete the transition to the internet at home for these students that need to be engaged in learning," said APISD Technology Director Jason Brou.

Any option that involves students entering a physical space is certain to be loaded with hurdles, from how to keep them 6 feet apart to making sure they are using hand sanitizer. In addition, classrooms must be adequately stocked with cleaning supplies.

"The only way we are going to do that is to assure our parents that what we have in place is following the most up-to-date and latest information put out by TEA and the CDC. What we try to make our parents and students understand is, if we want them in school, we have to follow these guidelines. Just like athletics, UIL put out some of the same guidelines they have to follow. If they want to play, they have to follow the guidelines. Luckily here at Aransas Pass, our athletic department, our teachers, our principals, have all been on board. Our students are doing a great job to this point. There are a lot of things that are written behind the scenes, but the actual protocols that students follow that are going to keep them safe are: keep the distance and wear those masks," said APISD Assistant Superintendent Wayne Bennett.

The District feels the metrics have been met to reopen its doors with safety protocols in place for students, parents and teachers.

"We were all kind of pushed out of the boat, and it was a sink or swim situation for us. Once we were able to open our lines of communications with our kids at home and with our parents, we definitely were able to get the ball rolling. There has not been a stopping point for us teachers as far as learning. Because things are constantly changing, we are constantly facing new issues and technology problems that we would have never have dealt with before this pandemic happened. So it has definitely been a different type of teaching method that we have all learned to adopt," said 6th grade English teacher Alexandria Neill.

Aransas Pass ISD desperately wants its kids back to class and knows that returning to in-person learning is the best path moving forward.

"We are ready for them to all come back. We want them in our classrooms, and we have things in place to ensure their safety. We are constantly monitoring and adjusting to ensure that everything is in place to keep them safe. Our teachers then can take that learning to the level we all want, and we can provide that support, encouragement that they need," said Cooke.

Story by Roland Rodriguez, Public Relations
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