RRISD Campuses Reopen for Learning

Delaney+Alt+%28left%29+and+Library+Assistant+Molly+Brabham+%28right%29+returned+to+campus+this+week.

Image by Isabella Mulhall

Delaney Alt (left) and Library Assistant Molly Brabham (right) returned to campus this week.

Students across RRISD were allowed back into the classroom on Sept. 15 for the first time in seven months. While students primarily in the special education program were able to return last week on Sept. 10, classrooms were opened Tuesday to those in the general student population who signed up for in-person learning. 

Teaching virtually has been a unique challenge, but I feel like I am starting to get the hang of it,” English Department Chair Erin Balfour said. “It will be interesting to adjust to teaching virtually while also monitoring students in my room.”

Students have been learning virtually via Schoology since the beginning of the school year. However, the district has laid out plans through their Reimagining Education initiative that will slowly allow for campuses to reopen, based on the coronavirus case trends in Williamson and Travis Counties. 

“I would return to campus in the scenario that I get to be taught directly from my actual teachers in person,” Junior Jessica Shoemaker said. “Personally, I view the system of virtual classes from a random classroom undesirable. It’s not really beneficial for me.”

The set up for online learning in our current stage has a small group of around 6 students assigned to each classroom, where two teachers are stationed. Each teacher instructs their own class, while also monitoring the students in their classroom. Students work on a computer with headphones, taking classes the same way as they would at home.

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“I’m hoping for things to shift back to normal soon,” Shoemaker said. “Normal would be attending 4 classes a day with my actual teachers and getting to socialize with a variety of people, even with masks and social distancing.”

The district reports that around 21% of McNeil students signed up for in-person learning on the survey sent out in August. This small number allows for students and staff to maintain social distancing throughout the day. Masks are being enforced at all times, aside from lunch and short breaks for individual students.

“Teachers have been asked to make a pretty significant shift to the way we present content, assess students, and engage with students,” Balfour said. “I know this has been difficult, but I am proud of our community!”