WACO, TX — Waco ISD and other school districts across Texas have begun to take some bold new steps to educate their students outside their traditional classroom walls.
While some districts plan to make use of already available methods of teaching, others have gone into full-on innovation mode.
As soon as school leaders realized their extended spring break might get extended to the end of the school year, they began planning for real learning in a virtual, digital world.
At Waco ISD and other districts, that meant extending technology from the classroom to the home.
Student Marvella Palacio and her friend, Emily, came by University High School Monday to pick up their new, district-issued computers. Both say they're ready to get learning again.
"Well, they offered us the laptops, so it's a big help," said Palacio.
Waco surveyed families on technology and decided to place one device in each household so students can get back to a new, virtual classroom.
Pick-up began Monday to steady business.
"We've had to image devices. We've had to order some hot spots. It's going to be a challenge to make sure that each family has a device and support them to be able to work from home," said Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon.
In addition to computers, some districts have begun to provide internet service, or helping find affordable options.
Each district has a slightly different mix of legacy and new technology to keep education on track.
"Starting next week we'll be rolling out full lessons, pre-K through 5th grade lessons on KISD-TV Channel 17 starting at 8:30 in the morning until one o'clock. We'll be running actually teacher-driven lessons from our KISD teachers," said Taina Maya of the Killeen Independent School District.
Students like Emily Moreno, who debated the importance of school before, after too long a break, they're ready to learn.
"I'm going to concentrate on my main courses, the ones I know I need to pass, even though at home it's going to be difficult, because the teachers in class explain to us and help us more, but we'll try to figure it out," she explained.
Districts say they'll have support for students, parents and even teachers in the brave new world.
”We'll be providing some professional development for teachers over the next week and beyond, to make sure they have the support they need as well," said Dr. Kincannon.
Palacio says after adjusting to so many changes, she hopes school, no matter how it gets delivered, gives her something to depend on.
"I just want to be stable, and have something stable for me, have a career hopefully," she said.
The Waco ISD Technology pick-up will continue for the next several days, with an eye toward getting students online and learning by the end of the week.