Burnet Consolidated Independent School District officials are encouraging remote learners to return to campus if possible.
“What we’ve learned the first nine weeks of school is that it takes a very special student to handle remote learning,” said Rachel Jones, BCISD assistant superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. “A lot of kids need to have an adult all day long, helping them and making sure they’re learning. It takes a very highly motivated student to do that at home.”
However, Jones and BCISD administration understand some families have chosen the remote learning options due to health concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. They are asking those who can to consider coming back to campus.
Approximately 85 percent of BCISD students attend in-class learning, up from about 70 percent the first day of class.
“We’ve had a lot more students return to school, for several reasons,” Jones said. “Folks didn’t realize how difficult remote learning would be.”
She pointed out that the current remote learning situation is more intense than it was in the spring. Along with learning new material, students are filling in gaps left from the end of the last academic year.
In his Oct. 21 “Superintendent’s Message,” BCISD Superintendent Keith McBurnett pointed out that teachers are taking on extra workloads to help remote learners.
“Teachers are somebody who can really coach the students along and give them feedback,” Jones explained. “Teachers are really powerful agents of change, and it’s hard to replicate that when (students) are not in person.”
Jones said it’s difficult for parents to match what teachers offer.
“(Remote learning) has really demonstrated how powerful having a content expert with (students) all day is,” she said.
BCISD has safety protocols in place on campuses to protect students and staff.
McBurnett stated in his “Superintendent’s Message” that the district has spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars to create as safe a learning environment as possible for students at school.”
Those protocols and protections appear to be working, as BCISD has had few cases of students and staff testing positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Jones said those testing positive most likely contracted the virus away from campus.
According to the district, there have been 13 confirmed cases among campus staff and students and two non-campus personnel since the beginning of school. That’s out of more than 3,200 students and over 500 employees districtwide.
Staff must wear face coverings or shields throughout the day, with exceptions for eating or similar activities. Third-graders through seniors also must wear face coverings, with exceptions for eating, exercising, playing musical instruments, and similar activities. First- and second-graders wear face coverings in the halls and other common areas, and pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students may wear face coverings on campus. All students are required to wear face coverings on buses.
The district also installed see-through dividers in many locations to help slow the spread of the virus. Social distancing protocols are even followed during lunch periods with students assigned seats.
“I think some of the apprehension or unknowns people had before school started, I think they’re seeing the schools are pretty safe,” Jones said. “I think that’s another reason more students have returned.”
Families wanting to switch from remote to in-person learning should contact their child’s campus, Jones said.