BIG SANDY, Texas (KETK) – Big Sandy ISD announced last week that they were shutting down its schools and going strictly to online learning until October 5 due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in its district.
The decision came after problems with staffing the school. “Enough of our teachers were either out or in quarantine. We had to make the decision to shut down the school. Every day there were new cases so we were just afraid it was gonna continue to multiply so we decided to shut down the school for a couple of weeks and hopefully slow the transmission of the virus to get things back to normal,” said the district’s Superintendent Mike Burns.
The district has had a total of 10 to 11 cases, according to Burns.
When school closure initially struck last spring, the district made an investment to increase the WiFi capability for its parking lots.
“We’ve continued that, so if you’re a student who is at home for these next two weeks that doesn’t have access to the internet, you can sit in the parking lot and your device will connect.”
Big Sandy ISD has provided a device for every student in need of one. “If you need a device, we have one for you and we passed those out last week for students that haven’t already gotten them from us and those that already had one didn’t have to worry about coming down. Everyone that needed a device should have a device,” said Burns.
The school made arrangements to ensure that all students don’t miss out on the opportunity to stay on track by providing reliable internet access.
In a letter to district families, Burns said the district has made school parking lots and gyms available for students who need a way to connect to the internet.
“All of our parking lots have Wifi access,” Burns said in the letter. “Students can sit in their cars and access the internet for as long as possible.”
The district also opened the elementary school gym and junior high gym last Thursday.
Both gyms are open from 8 a.m.-noon and supervised by school employees.
Burns stressed that students who have tested positive for COVID-19 are not able to use the gym facilities until they have been officially cleared by their school.
Burns said the district “understands that there are students who have been attending class face-to-face who don’t have reliable internet connection at home.”
It had hoped to alleviate that problem by ordering more than 100 mobile wifi hotspots, “but has not yet received them due to a large back-order.”
“We ask that if you do have internet at home that you stay at home and allow those students in our district who do not have that access … to be able to have the first opportunity to access their remote learning from campus,” Burns wrote.
The letter also announced that all extra-curricular activities are put on pause until next week. Both Homecoming Night and Senior Night are currently rescheduled for the game against Linden-Kildare on October 23rd. The district plans to make up for all missed volleyball games once school returns in October.