School is back in session for Thrall Independent School District, one of the first public school districts to return to in-person school. Classes began in the small Central Texas town last week and, despite the coronavirus pandemic, only 25%of the 750-member student body opted to stay home for virtual instruction.
Superintendent Tommy Hooker told Texas Standard the first week turned out very well.
“We are capturing kids’ hearts in school,” Hooker said. “We feel like, being able to see students eye-to-eye, that is the way that they choose to learn as well.”
According to Hooker, lack of internet access among students is one of the main reasons the district pushed for in-person classes.
“Our connectivity in rural Texas is very limited and we have students who do not have that connectivity to be able to do lessons on a consistent basis,” Hooker said.
Before reopening school, a task force of parents, medical advisors and administrative team members put together a safety protocol for students and teachers to follow. It requires wearing masks at all times, maintaining six feet of distance from others and provides for hand washing at soap stations.
“We check the temperatures daily, we monitor students and we try to have the parents communicate with us often when they have either their child, or even when a staff member, is not feeling well,” Hooker said.
The superintendent says if coronavirus cases increase on certain campuses – or even the entire district – would need to shut down, Thrall ISD is prepared to do that.
Web story by Sarah Gabrielli.