MISD develops plan to educate students from homes

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“We’re finally getting to a point where we feel good about what our plan is,” MISD Superintendent Cody Mize said of the schools adapting to educate students with campuses closed by the virus outbreak.

On Friday and Saturday, MISD distributed Chromebooks to middle, elementary and primary school students in preparation for all classes being taught online starting Monday, March 23. High school students already had their devices, but there was concern about not having enough devices for primary students. 

The biggest challenge is finding a way to service kids with limited access to internet. For those that do not have access, instructional packets were passed out as well. 

“It’s great to provide them an instructional packet, but we need to provide them a way to get them the content and instruction from the teachers,” said Mize.

Teachers are using Google classroom and YouTube to record lessons, but they are being flexible with students who absolutely can’t get their lessons completed. 

“This is unprecedented time for us, our parents and our kids,” Mize said. “We still want a high standard for our kids. We want to push them and we want them to receive an education. We want that to continue, but there is going to be a lot of flexibility on our end.”

Since there aren’t any confirmed cases in Wood County, staff has been given the option to come to the school or to do their lessons from home with Virtual Classroom and hold virtual office hours. 

All school and administration offices will stay open by appointment, but the doors will be locked.

STAAR testing and SAT testing has been canceled, and Texas law says high school students have to pass the five end of course tests to be able to graduate, but they have made a provision for school committees to create individual graduation plans to meet those credentials for students to graduate.

Middle, elementary and primary school teachers will look at students’ work to determine placement groups as they move to the next grade. 

“I can’t brag on our folks enough. Our principals and staff have been fantastic,” Mize said. “I’m blown away by the fact that they’ve totally taken school as we know it and have flipped it upside down in one week, and on Monday we’re rolling out a virtual school.”

With the spread of the coronavirus and the uncertainty it creates, students are having to forgo their extracurricular activities, and some of the greatest high school activities, such as prom and graduation, may just not happen this school year. 

“We haven’t even thought of graduation activities yet because we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’re going to be able to continue graduation,” said Mize. “We’ll come up with a solution, possibly a delayed graduation and prom.”

Senior student Brianna Bethel says that she wishes she was back in class, but she’s trying to be positive.

“As a senior, I don’t have many days left. These are my final days to walk the halls. It hurts my heart to know that my senior year is basically canceled. Everyone’s worried about prom being canceled and graduation being moved, but these are the days that we are still kids. Once we have that diploma, it’s the start of a whole new world. It’s becoming very stressful, sad and heartbreaking to know that I don’t get to have that senior conversation with my teachers. The underclassmen don’t understand. They are out having the time of their lives while seniors are sitting back and wondering what will happen next. 

“My band and FFA events have been moved around or canceled. Band is basically my life. It’s been my number one thing since 6th grade. It makes me want to cry when I think about having one less day with the best band director in the world, less laughs and less memories to make with everyone. We were supposed to get our state rings this Friday, but since this virus is canceling everything, we can’t. I want to perform again. I don’t want it all to end now. I’m going to miss band once I’ve graduated. I hope that this virus calms down soon. I really am missing out on my senior year.”

Mize says things on one end of the operation have continued as normal, but the instructional piece has been flipped upside down.

Food service and maintenance workers are preparing for a summer schedule, but if students can continue virtually, the school plans to continue the traditional calendar set in place. 

Big events will be pushed later in the spring or first part of summer. For now, the administration doesn’t see a need for an extended school year or running into summer, and things should start as normal in the fall.

“You learn the kind of people you have in your organization, and we have fantastic people. We’re all in the process of learning something new. We’re all adapting and overcoming,” boasts Mize.

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