East Texas schools prepare for new normal as the school year approaches


LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – Preparing for a new school year is already hard enough, but when you add a pandemic, it can be extremely difficult. Many East Texas school districts now facing new challenges they’ve never experienced.

When the bell rings this year, hallways will look a little different.

“I think the biggest misconception is that we’re going to be able to keep them 6 feet apart at all times,” Elizabeth Ross, with Longview ISD.

Ross says serious discussions will have to be made in order to have a successful and safe school year. As new information surrounding COVID-19 comes out every day, changes to the academic change with it. The school sending to families, asking questions like “how comfortable they feel sending their children back?” and “what safety measures they would like to see?”

“What we wanted to do was, empower our parents and our teachers to give us their thoughts, give us their opinions in a date driven way,” explained Ross.

This comes after the Texas Department Agency released new guidelines for schools, including:

  • A mask requirement for students ages ten and older
  • Social distancing encouraged in classrooms
  • Staff must self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms

Governor Greg Abbott also weighing in on the decision, stating to keeping parents, teachers, and parents safe will be a team effort.

“We need everyone to work together so that we do not loose these kids, by using the distancing tools that we have to make sure that we can educate children in a very safe environment,” said Governor Abbott.

As President Trump calls for students to resume face to face learning in the fall, Governor Abbott agrees, “we know the importance of not loosing a generation of students because of a pandemic.”

Lindale ISD also hitting the drawing board asking for parents input by sending out surveys.

“We’re going to give some guidelines to parents about the screening they must do each week, almost daily, for their student to come to school,” said Stan Surratt, Lindale ISD Superintendent.

Surratt says areas like the bus, cafeteria, and hallways will be difficult to control. As the school implements more safety precautions than required.

“The extra cleaning we’re doing, the extra precautions, of course social distancing, we’re going to do the best we can, we are really limited on some areas, the bus is one area,” explained Surratt.

Another major concern are masks. After Governor Abbott put a mandatory mask order in place, it took the decision out of the school districts hands. Finding way for anyone over the age of 10 to wear one. However, with more news and changes coming out every week, some school leaders are hopeful the mandate will be lifted before the first day.

As school remains closed for the summer, it is unclear how many students will be sitting at their desk come fall.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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