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Lubbock-The hallways of Overton Elementary School in Lubbock, Texas, have been empty for over a month. Schools across the country let out for spring break, but because of the Coronavirus, the students never came back.  Governor Greg Abbott announced Friday that all Texas schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year. Overton Principal Ann Archer looked out to an empty cafeteria, one usually filled with the chatter of students.  “I know it’s necessary, and I’m thankful that those making the decision have everyone’s health in mind first and foremost, but it’s sad,” Archer said. “It should be full of children laughing and visiting, and just the hustle and bustle of school.” view article arw

Garland Independent School District says its success comes from planning well before other districts starting thinking about coronavirus. view article arw

Katy ISD Director of Instructional Technology Darlene Rankin said she is not surprised the district has distributed about 12,000 Chromebooks, iPads and hotspots to students to help them access their online classes while campuses are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.   “There are so many family members at home from work and from school,” she said.  Parents need a laptop or tablet device for work while students also need the device for school work, she explained.  "People may have just one device or two devices at home ... and families [may have] three to five kids in their homes and all of them needing access." view article arw

Over the past month, distance learning has become the routine for students throughout the state as COVID-19 has forced schools closed through the end of the academic year.  While College Station has utilized the online Schoology learning management system for a year, Bryan schools implemented the program in response to the need for at-home learning. Both districts also have begun grading assignments through Schoology. view article arw

Remote learning, support of staff stress levels and district efforts during this COVID-19 pandemic were addressed by Ector County ISD Superintendent Scott Muri during a board of trustees meeting.  Muri offered an update and answered questions he’s gotten on a variety of topics Tuesday. Delma Abalos, board vice president, was absent.  This is the fifth week of remote learning and Muri said 89 percent of elementary students are engaged while 84 percent of middle and high school students are. view article arw

When COVID-19 shut down the schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 5-year-old Caillou’s family decided that his cousin Nehemiah Frank, a journalist and former teacher, was best positioned to monitor the kindergartner as he did his classwork online. What they discovered was shocking: The boy had speech issues, did not know all the alphabet, could not recognize the most basic sight words and had terrible penmanship. “He went almost all year without anyone catching this,” says Frank. “If this pandemic hadn’t happened, we might not have caught it.” view article arw

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Many people have been adjusting to the new normal due to COVID-19. Working from home and schooling from home have been a challenge to say the least.  It's been especially tough for our rural communities.   Nora Perez visited with residents in one small town to see how they are keeping their students connected and on track. view article arw

CEDAR HILL, TX – Don’t miss a thing with CHISD’s new website highlighting news from the District. Cedar Hill Independent School District launched the new “Longhorn Newsroom” on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. The site will highlight the District’s news and accomplishments through stories, photos and videos. view article arw

Richardson ISD will provide 1,000 additional mobile hotspots to support online learning over the course of coronavirus-related school closures, Deputy Superintendent Tabitha Branum said at an April 21 board meeting. view article arw

Starting today, the AT&T Center will serve as a Wi-Fi hub for residents needing internet access.  Spurs Give, the non-profit of Spurs Sports and Entertainment, will provide free internet access from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily. Those needing  to connect to the AT&T Center's signal can park in lot 3 to hook up to the "spursgive" Wi-Fi network. view article arw

To better serve the community as Tomball ISD continues with remote learning while schools are closed, the district announced Monday that Park-n-Learn Wi-Fi access would be available at several campuses. The new service is intended to serve as free Wi-Fi hot spots available to use 24/7 for students and staff. view article arw

Comal ISD announced Tuesday it's launching bus Wi-Fi access for students. The district said it has equipped school buses with access points and parked them at seven locations. view article arw

This can’t be our new normal

April 2108:40 AM
 

When people ask me how my family is coping, I say we are fine. We’re in a house with plenty of food and reliable internet access. If my sons (a high schooler and a college student) need help with at-home learning, they meet with their teachers during Zoom office hours. Like everyone, we’re doing our best to get by. However, I also know the lessons are less engaging, less personalized and my kids can’t socialize the way they do at school. As a mother, I think to myself, this cannot become the “new normal.” view article arw

Following the recent announcement that Dripping Springs ISD schools will continue virtual learning through the end of the semester, Superintendent Todd Washburn recommended trustees adopt a policy not to include the current semester when factoring students’ grade point averages at an April 20 agenda review meeting. While the board of trustees held off on a vote until next week’s regular board meeting, trustees expressed support for Washburn’s proposal. view article arw

SAN ANTONIO -- Nicole Scott teaches at Northside ISD in San Antonio and she’s been teaching from home for weeks now.  “One of the questions I posed to my students was do they prefer working at home or at school?” Scott says.  These are common circumstances for fifth-grade teachers like Scott, who are adapting to distance learning along with their students  "I think it’s just kind of figuring out how to structure it so it’s productive and also produces that connectivity for them,” Scott says. view article arw

KILLEEN, Texas – Killeen Independent School District students and staff can download and install Microsoft Office 365 on their personal devices while learning at home continues.  The district’s Microsoft Office 365 licensing package now allows students and staff to access five home computers and five cellphone licenses at no cost to the user. This ensures students can collaborate in a safe and secure environment even if they are on a personal device or cellphone. view article arw

San Antonio school districts are partnering with city agencies to provide mobile Wi-Fi service to students.  Vans equipped with high-speed networks will be dispatched to locations across the city, officials said Wednesday. The mobile hotspots have a range of 100 to 200 feet and will allow students to access the signal from a nearby parked car. view article arw

Expanding broadband

April 1708:25 AM
 

The nation is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the virus impacts individuals and communities in similar ways, it has also exposed weaknesses and inequities in our infrastructure. One area where we see a great divide is access to broadband internet. With a wide range of services going digital, broadband access has become a necessity in the 21st century.  A recent study by the Brookings Institution has noted that access to broadband is the “most inequitable infrastructure” in America. Approximately 15 percent of households do not have subscriptions to any form of “broadband” internet service, defined as anything faster than dialup. view article arw

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Career and technical classes are offered through most high schools to students when college is not the best option.  Students graduate high school with a certificate or license to begin working after graduation.  However, for some, like seniors taking cosmetology at River Road, that process has been delayed this year due to the coronavirus.  “For my seniors, they’re finishing up their hours and their written exam has been put on hold, because we were ready to take our written exam, but it’s been put on hold. As soon as TDLR opens that testing back up, we’ll schedule their testing, and I will go with them to do that. Soon as we finish that, I will open up the lab as soon as we are allowed to. We’ll do a little bit of practicing for our practical, and then we’ll go test,” said Christina Putnam, cosmetology teacher at River Road High School. view article arw

The Austin Independent School District says spring registration for elementary schools for the 2020-2021 school year is happening online – instead of on campuses – because of the COVID-19 pandemic. view article arw

LAREDO, TX (KGNS) - Classrooms are looking a lot different across the country these days. Many rooms and kitchen tables have become the center point for everyday schooling.  School districts have resorted to online courses due COVID-19. It's a big adjustment for students, parents and teachers.  Students from United High School's Interact Club wants to help ease the stress that comes with home schooling.  The students have come together to offer tutoring sessions through face chat to kids who might be having a hard time adapting learning from home. view article arw

A team of Killeen ISD educators have prepared math and literacy lessons that debuted this week on the school district’s Channel 17 TV station as an extension of the Continued Learning Center distance learning offerings.  Residents may see the recorded half-hour lessons on KISD-TV Spectrum Channel 17 and on www.killeenisd.org/livetv.  In addition, KWTX Channel 10 has formed a partnership with KISD to offer its broadcast facility and over-the-air signal to support the televised learning throughout its viewing area. view article arw

The San Antonio Independent School District regained contact with more than 5,000 students this past week, cutting the number of students it hasn’t heard from since spring break in half.  In an update to trustees during Monday night’s virtual board meeting, district officials said they’ve now had at least one interaction with 88% of elementary students. That’s up from 75% a week ago.   All told, SAISD has now heard from 91% of their students since schools closed to help limit the spread of COVID-19, up from 80% a week ago. view article arw

As schools across the country shut their doors indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, millions of students are now adjusting to online learning. But for low income families who may not have access to WiFi, this transition is a problem.  That's why the Austin Independent School District (ISD) has deployed 110 school buses now equipped with WiFi to neighborhoods and apartment complexes where the district identified the highest need for internet access. view article arw

Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Dr. Charles Dupre announced Tuesday in a letter to the FBISD community that his school district won't be doing in person classes for the rest of the school year because of the coronavirus.  Dupre, head of the fourth largest school district in the region, acknowledged in his letter that even if Gov. Abbott allows schools to reopen after May 4, that many parents would have reservations about returning. view article arw

The Fort Worth ISD Board of Education ratified the emergency purchase of thousands of Chromebook computers during an online board meeting Tuesday evening.  The Board also approved the purchase of thousands of internet hotspots. view article arw

Though we are not together every day, we at Harlandale ISD continue to support each other as a community.  We appreciate the wonderful response our community has provided us and the tremendous help from all our teachers, leaders and departments across the district, in supporting your children’s academic growth and development during this school closure period.  April is School Library Month and we recognize the work our librarians have been accomplishing remotely as they help families navigate online learning. They have been training our educators with e-resource tutorials, keeping our neighborhood mini-libraries stocked, and providing online reading opportunities. view article arw

The sudden shutdown of Houston schools has sent educators scrambling for a highly-prized possession — and no, it’s not toilet paper.  Wireless hotspots are in enormous demand — and short supply — as local school leaders look to help lower-income students connect to online learning amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, several district officials and tech leaders said.  The hotspots, often about the size of a hockey puck or smartphone, deliver internet service to all laptops, tablets and other internet-ready devices within a limited range, typically extending the length of a household. view article arw

So far, mostly good for the Goose Creek CISD students and families.  After being forced into a distance learning environment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, kids of all grades were sent packing to learn and be taught from the comfort of home and out of the schools.  On Wednesday, the district got together to look at some of the early returns and most of them reflect a positive response to date. view article arw

As schools across the country shut their doors indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, millions of students are now adjusting to online learning. But for low income families who may not have access to WiFi, this transition is a problem. That's why the Austin Independent School District (ISD) has deployed 110 school buses now equipped with WiFi to neighborhoods and apartment complexes where the district identified the highest need for internet access. view article arw

Bryan ISD students are learning new lessons as the COVID-19 crisis continues. Teachers are also adapting to how they teach virtually, for now. Bryan ISD has issued out around 5,000 Chromebooks to help students stay connected with their teachers and learn new curriculum. Other students are using family computers and smartphones they already have at home to stay in school. Paper handouts are also an option. view article arw

Now is the chance to help your local community succeed. Contribute to community journalism and gain daily insight into what's happening in your own backyard. Thank you for reading and supporting community journalism. view article arw

The Brownsville Independent School District will host a Live Virtual Conference call at 2 p.m. Monday where Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., BISD Board of Trustees President Minerva Peña, BISD Superintendent Dr. René Gutierrez and Texas Education Agency Commissioner of Education Mike Morath will talk about the measures Texas and BISD are taking to halt the spread of coronavirus at schools. The community can watch the conference on Spectrum Cable Channel 1301, BISD-KBSD ITV Youtube Channel, on bisd.us and at the “Brownsville Independent School District” Facebook page. view article arw

Beaumont ISD is continuing with their online flexible learning plan with a second round of online learning assignments being posted on their website.  For students who are using the paper learning packets, the pick-up will continue to be on Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.  In a video posted to social media, district Superintendent Shannon Allen said in addition to their assigned work, students should be reading - and the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the district Jenny Angelo told The Enterprise that there are other options to keep students engaged. view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The superintendent of central Texas’ biggest school district is spending his last few months on the job, helping facilitate education at home.  Paul Cruz announced earlier this year he’s resigning and taking a new job at the University of Texas at Austin. While his last day with the Austin Independent School District is still to be determined, Cruz is working with district officials to help students continue their education at home during the Stay Home-Work Safe order. view article arw