BRAZOS VALLEY, TX — We're just days away from students and teachers returning to the classroom for yet another unusual year.
Teachers and students are preparing for this upcoming school year. Many of the COVID guidelines look to stay the same but one thing students could expect is more in-depth instruction for those who struggled on the STAAR exam.
“I’m a little nervous and excited at the same time,” said soon-to-be 6th grader, James Calanog.
James Calanog will attend Cypress Grove Intermediate school. He is proud to share he will continue to wear his mask throughout the school year. Although rules and regulations may change around him, he says he’s prepared to take it head-on.
“I’m wearing a mask to be safe,” added Calanog. “This year I’ll feel much more prepared because I went through a whole year of wearing my mask but still like. It’s still going to be different because there’s going to be changes throughout the year.”
As for his mom Tracey Calanog, she’s excited to help him get acquainted with his new surroundings. This was something she missed out on last year.
“You know we're coming up on next week we start all of the back-to-school stuff, so the open houses the classroom stuff which we did not get to do last year, so that is going to be something that we’re, I mean as a parent we’re looking forward to,” said Tracey Calanog, mother of James Calanog.
While teachers and administrators are busy preparing now, they have an added challenge.
House Bill 4545 passed in the 87th legislative session, now requiring school districts to provide extensive tutoring.
Administrators faced this as a bit of a challenge due to the already established struggle to find new hires. But schools like Caldwell Intermediate School were able to shift time and utilize retired teachers to make it happen.
“We were able to create an accelerated learning period of 43 minutes during the school day and those students who weren’t successful on the star test will have opportunities to receive that tutoring and small group instruction,” said Larea Gamble, Principal of Caldwell Intermediate School.
While school districts can no longer require masks, they are continuing to utilize other mitigation efforts where it’s needed.
“We do have smaller class sizes primarily the plexiglass would be most appropriate in our elementary classes that remain in a class all day long you know with the same students,” said Kim Pagach, director of special projects and communication for Caldwell ISD.
One thing many schools have gone away with is the option of virtual learning. This seems to now be more of an emergency alternative rather than an option for students to take throughout the school year.