Dr. Chris Allen, the Marble Falls schools superintendent, talked about how students and staff are working amid the coronavirus pandemic via a phone interview with KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune's Ed Chandler during the 'Wake Up Show' on April 27. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton
Marble Falls Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Chris Allen knows families are dealing with many issues amid the coronavirus pandemic and not all of them are academic-related. He wants students and their families to know the district is here to help no matter the struggle.
“We can’t solve every one of these problems, but we can solve a lot of problems,” he told Ed Chandler of KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune’s “Wake Up Show” via a phone interview April 27.
The two discussed campus closures and the effects on students and staff as well as when in-class lessons might resume.
Allen said the majority of students have been able to stay on task while remote learning.
But, he pointed out, some MFISD families are dealing with financial problems, and their high school-age kids are taking extra shifts at their jobs to help make ends meet.
If a student falls behind, teachers reach out to them to try to come up with a solution. The best thing parents can do, Allen said, is pay attention to any communication from the school and follow up with their children.
“If there is an issue, please, please, please don’t hesitate to let us know,” Allen said.
It doesn’t have to be directly class-related. He and MFISD Assistant Superintendent Jeff Gasaway made the rounds April 24 to check on the district’s remote Wi-Fi bus connections after someone raised concerns one of them might not be working effectively. The buses are parked across the district to help students without home internet connections complete their schoolwork.
If there’s anything good that comes from COVID-19’s impact on education, KBEY’s Chandler and Dr. Allen agreed, it would be a higher appreciation for teachers.
“I think one thing we’re learning in this closure is the value of a teacher,” Allen told Chandler.
Allen pointed out that some parents are realizing that educating a child isn’t just about conveying information. A teacher, he explained, is also a mentor, an influencer, and an inspirational figure.
During the interview, he also talked about another important part of education: extracurricular activities, which often teach lessons to be used outside of the classroom. All activities have been canceled for the rest of the school year.
He spotlighted the Marble Falls High School musical theater department, which earned six nominations in the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards at the Long Center in Austin on April 15. The ceremony, which would have included two MFHS performances, was canceled due to COVID-19.
The school’s one-act play team was in the midst of its season when the University Interscholastic League canceled that as well as all other UIL-sanctioned events and activities.
As for when students will return to classrooms, Allen isn’t sure. He told Chandler he didn’t think students would be attending on-campus summer school this year, but he was optimistic about classes resuming in August.
However, Allen said some Central Texas public schools are developing plans to continue at-home learning when the 2020-21 academic year begins.
Despite the challenges, Allen said he’s proud of the way people have reacted.
“You’re seeing the best of people come out at this time,” he told Chandler.