CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Inside Fannin Elementary, the classrooms remain empty as students remain at home learning virtually because of COVID-19.
Faculty and staff are in the school either preparing for their return, or some teachers have taught virtually from their classroom, just for a sense of normalcy.
Sandra Aleman is one of those teachers.
Inside her large, empty classroom she sits in a large rolling chair among the empty little ones meant to be filled by her Pre-K class. She is doing the best she can to cope with the absence and silence, but it still remains strange.
"I really love my students," said Aleman. "It hurts my feelings that they're not here, but I guess this is the next best thing."
Aleman has been a CCISD teacher for years, moving throughout different grades and different schools. She, like the rest of her peers, is getting used to the new world of virtual teaching until the day students return.
For Aleman, her priority is to send the students "home" happy at the end of each day. She has a secret tool that does the trick: The Goodbye Song.
"I've been doing the goodbye song for years," she added. "It let's them know they are safe, they are loved and that they actually are going home at the end of the day."
Aleman stands in front of her projection screen with the words on it and sings to the camera, the students sing along with her.
For many, it may not seem like much -- just a song to say goodbye to the kids. However, according to school principal Analisa Farah, the students leave happy and smiling, and this helps the parents.
"Parents are very happy about being with Miss Aleman," she said. "They actually want to come back the next day."
Most students are having to adjust to the complicated world of virtual learning. Now imagine a 4-year-old having to do the same, but with the help of their parents.
It can be a lot, and the fact the students are able to end the day on a high note allows parents to breathe and manage at least a little of pressure and stress that has come with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"When we walk out at the end of the day, they are in a totally different mood," said Aleman.
Normally, The Goodbye Song is quite the sight, with students singing and dancing along with their teacher. Right now, it is just Miss Aleman doing the best she can to replicate its magic in an empty classroom.
She can't wait for that to change.
"I'm so excited to just have their little bodies here already," she said.