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First day back to the classroom for Gregory-Portland students

Posted at 4:55 PM, Sep 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-08 20:20:14-04

PORTLAND, Texas — UPDATE (7:17 p.m.): Two G-P staff members received positive COVID-19 antigen tests, the district reported in a news release Monday evening. It states the staffers haven't had direct contact with students and have not been on district property in the last 72 hours. They have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

It felt more like a party than the first day of in-class instruction at East Cliff Elementary.

The top 40 hits were playing as teachers and staff waved and cheered on students while they entered the building.

Doors opened at 7:45 a.m., and by 8 a.m. all students were inside and parents had left the parking lot.

The Gregory-Portland Independent School District has a phase-in plan for students returning to buildings. The first phase included select students -- pre-K through fifth grade -- whom were allowed to return to in-person instruction.

Phase 2 will begin Sept. 21, with grades 6, 9 and 12 allowed back. Phase 3 begins Sept. 28 with grades 7, 8, 10 and 11.

Many parents that spoke to KRIS 6 News are eager to have their child back in the classroom.

"Hoping for, yes; ready for no," said parent Stacy, whose child was beginning in-class instruction on Tuesday. "I don’t think you’re ever ready to send your kid into unknowing territory."

Stacy believes the district has taken extra precautions to have students back into the classroom in the safest way possible.

GPISD has utilized a specific strategy for the middle and high school campuses, known as the PODS System.

However, the elementary schools have a different approach.

"Elementaries are typically self-contained, where one teacher has their students all day long," said GPISD Superintendent Michelle Cavazos. "And then some instances where the departments have been compartmentalized where the teacher maybe shares their students. Some campuses may have teachers move from classroom to classroom to meet their students."

Cavazos said the teachers are ready for students to be back in the classroom. She said principals at each school created a plan for students to return to the buildings and made sure they communicated to all parents.

"They also sent out videos to their families, to teach them and say, hey when you come to school on the first day this is what the process looks like," she said.

At East Cliff Elementary, only 25% of students that are enrolled in the school arrived on Tuesday morning.