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Return to 'normal' for schools not expected until fall at the earliest

Posted at 7:21 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 10:29:48-05

WACO, TX — For parents, school this year has been a roller coaster ride.

"You're absolutely correct," Waco parent Heather Wells said.

Or maybe it was more like a never ending day at the neighborhood pool, with kids in and out, in and out in regards to in-person learning.

"My daughter's usually an A and B student, but with remote learning, she struggled and fell behind," Wells explained.

The question of whether her kids will be learning in person or from home is ever-present in Heather's mind.

"That's always a thought. Are they going to send them back home?" she said.

So when will her question be irrelevant?

In an email, a media specialist from the Texas Education Agency said it's too early to speculate about when a return to normal will be.

"Due to the ever-changing nature of the current public health landscape, it is impossible to speculate on when there will be a complete return to what many would consider a "normal" or "traditional" school setting."
Jake Kobersky Texas Education Agency

In an email, Joshua Wucher, the executive director for communications for Waco ISD, expressed something similar, saying the district plans to continue offering families the option of remote learning through the end of the school year before re-evaluating in the summer.

"Regarding next school year and remote/in-person learning, we will reassess this summer based on guidance from public health experts and any changes in state guidelines/requirements."
Josh Wucher Waco Independent School District

Zeph Capo, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Texas, says he doesn't expect "normal" to return until next fall.

"I don't see us getting back to any more of a normal schedule any sooner than this fall," said Capo.

The key to returning to normal? Capo says getting teachers vaccinated would be a good start.

"Well, I do think that many of our district leaders in the local officials are trying their best to identify as many, as many vials of the vaccine is possible," he said. "We hear in different places that different levels of educators are getting access to that vaccine, and we believe that that is important, that all of our educators who want the vaccine get immediate access."

Just as important as health and safety is the quality of the education, Capo says.

"There's a lot of concern, outside of the health issues, is the concern for students' academic continuation," he said.

A recent release from the TEA highlights how well a student has learned during the period of disruption to normal classroom instruction amid the pandemic.

"I think that, you know, despite what some may think or believe, our teachers are very concerned about delivering instruction to our students," said Capo.

Students are the main concern, but at least for now, providing vaccinations to adolescents seems unlikely anytime soon.

Studies are underway by Moderna. The biotechnology company recently announced it's been testing its COVID-19 vaccine in children as young as 12, but those trials need more volunteers.

For now, Capo hopes parents, students, and teachers remember a couple of things as we navigate the year together.

"I mean, I hope the one thing that regardless of what we think, believe, act or do during this pandemic is that we try to be a bit kinder to one another, that we'd be a bit more patient with one another," he said.