MCALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — The McAllen Independent Schools District (ISD) is starting their 2020-2021 school year 100% virtual and will weigh every factor to see for how long they will stay in that direction.
“All of our elementary students have iPads and our secondary students have chrome books, with regards to synchronized instruction we’re trying to find the right amount of time,” said Dr. J.A. Gonzalez, McAllen ISD Superintendent. “Our elementary student’s attention span can’t be all day, so we’re trying to find three-hour blocks, but we do want our teachers to have face to face with our students.”
Regardless of the subject, teachers have adapted and are prepared to continue teaching students virtually.
Physical education coaches are posting workouts that can be done at home online.
Band camps, mariachi practice and even choir is all done virtually, but together.
“The whole distance learning thing has been a pretty cool experience for everybody,” said Alex Treviño, Mariachi Director at McAllen High School.
The district will stay virtual for the first four weeks and after that will take guidance from the Texas Education Agency and the school board.
“Our region is a hot spot and in talking to health officials there are capacity issues at our hospitals and we are having conversations with our health care leaders and we have a tremendous board so they will look at the hard factors and they will make a decision to add an additional four weeks if we need to based on the facts before them,” said Gonzalez. “To the staff, to the parents, I want them to know we are ready. We [are a] high performing district, and we have been for many years and the new challenges before us give us an opportunity to showcase our skill sets and we get power from one another, and right now the Rio Grande Valley, our strength is our people. We need to come together, and I know for sure we will get through this.”
Virtual or not, Gonzalez says the spirit of staff at the district is positive and they will be ready for the challenges ahead with a smile.
“When you’re an educator at heart there is a level of passion within you, so regardless of the challenges teachers are facing, they are optimistic,” said Gonzalez.
As for the students and staff that may have pre-existing health conditions or underlying medical conditions, Gonzalez says the district will monitor those on a case by case basis if they do decide to return to campus.
Each day, children will have the option of synchronous learning. As the schedule indicates, teachers will be teaching live at the scheduled class times. Students will be able to log on and participate in class just as they would in a school building. Every one of those class times will be recorded, and those recordings will also be placed in the child’s online classroom library. These will be available to access at any time so that students who attended live sessions can access again, or, students who were not able to attend can see it as well.
In addition, teachers will also be scheduling office hours so that students and parents who have questions or need additional support can communicate directly.
Parent information meetings and additional information will be shared in the weeks ahead.