More than 1,000 Plainview Independent School District students began the 2020-2021 school year online. Now, at the end of the first six weeks of classes, 822 are participating in online learning as of Friday.
As the year continues, district officials hope to see even more of the 4,867 students enrolled at PISD return to the classrooms.
That was Plainview ISD’s overall enrollment as of Friday, said Brent Richburg, chief technology officer for PISD. That number is about 326 under what enrollment was at that same day at the end of the first six weeks in the 2019-2020 school year. That enrollment number includes everybody learning both on and off campus.
The kids who are learning online are about evenly split across all grade levels, Richburg said.
He also noted that 79 students are now doing homeschool, which is different than at-home instruction provided by the district.
While district officials, including Yesenia Pardo, say they understand why families are choosing the online learning route, they hope to see more send their kids back to campus.
“There are some curriculum challenges,” said Pardo, assistant superintendent for elementary instruction and leadership.
Students who attend in-classroom instruction have the advantage of time with their teachers who may have limited time for each of their online pupils, she said. Part of the responsibility of picking up where online students are struggling is falling on the parents and they may not have as good of an understanding on the subject(s) as the instructors trained to teach it.
Richburg added that there’s also the struggle for some of finding a reliable internet connection and other resources.
Richburg and Pardo both noted that they hope safety protocols draw families to send their kids back to the classrooms.
Masks are now a necessary part of daily attire, hand sanitizing stations are spread across each campus and social distancing is being enforced in every hallway and in every lunch room. Classrooms are also undergoing sanitization every 24 hours, said Rick Garcia, assistant superintendent for instructional support.
Governor Abbott’s executive order regarding masks in public places states that anyone who is at least 10 years old or older should wear a mask. Garcia noted that kids even younger are wearing masks on-campus. The elementary students in the lower grade levels are also learning to incorporate safe social distance in their actions.
With the majority of students back on campuses and in-classroom enrollment continuing to grow, Garcia says it’s those protocols that have helped the district avoid COVID-19 outbreaks. There have been infections, he added, but they’ve all so far been contracted off-campus.