From Texas Public Radio:
Several charter networks and nine of the 15 school districts based in Bexar County reopen their schools to in-person instruction Tuesday for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.
While final numbers are not yet settled, up to 20% of the county’s students are headed back in the classroom, according to district plans and estimates.
Most of the county’s more than 350,000 students are still learning from home, however. Thousands of families have opted to stay in virtual classes, and most of the districts that reopened are phasing in a return to face-to-face lessons.
Parents that decided to send their children back to campus had to weigh their children’s educational needs against lingering health concerns.
Single mom Tracy Sinha originally selected virtual learning for her three school-aged children.
“I felt like it was the safest option for us and the safest option for the teachers,” Sinha said Friday during a slight lull in the chaos of simultaneous Zoom lessons.
Her 15-year-old daughter Meadow streamed her chemistry class, while Emerson, 13, and Finnigin, 8, watched Angry Bird cartoons on their lunch break. Her toddler, Rama, clamored to get past the child-safety gate into the kitchen.
The first week of school this fall, Sinha said it quickly became clear that distance learning wasn’t working for Finnigin, who is autistic and language-delayed.
“We have spent most of his life trying to help him find his voice, and whenever he’s getting on these Zoom calls and trying to connect with his teachers, he’s missing a core element of his communication, which is nonverbal,” Sinha said.
So when Finnigin’s teacher told Sinha the Northside Independent School District is starting out with just English Learners and special education students in self-contained settings, she changed her mind.
“I really struggled with this decision. This was one of the most agonizing decisions (I’ve ever) made, because I did pick virtual,” Sinha said. “I look at my middle schooler and my high schooler, and yes, they would prefer to be in person. But there isn’t as much need as there is with my eight-year-old. He needs it.”