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Old Corpus Christi theater reopens as school amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 8:45 PM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 01:15:54-04

Richard Milburn Academy students got their first look at their new campus Tuesday as the Corpus Christi charter school held its first classes in the renovated, decades-old building that once housed the National Twin Theaters.

“So many of us who grew up here in Corpus remember seeing movies at this theater," said RMA Prinicipal Liz Hanna, who added that the retrofit was completed on time despite the COVID-19 pandemic. "It’s awesome that we didn’t tear it down -- that we were able to preserve it. (The building) will go on for another 50 years.”

KRIS 6 News first reported on the renovations to the building on S. Staples Street in February, just before the beginning of the pandemic.

With classes being held on campus for the first time Tuesday, Academy faculty and staff are taking lots of precautions to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

They include common precautions such as mask-wearing and social distancing. But the school is also regulating passing periods and bathroom breaks to limit the amount of time students spend around one another.

“We certainly have the ability to space them out, and to make sure that everything we provide here is safe and clean,” Hanna said.

Maintaining that space between students would have been more difficult at RMA's previous campus, an old bank building on Everhart Road. The school stopped holding classes there at the beginning of the pandemic.

RMA Marketing Director Rhett LaRose said the fact that the Corpus Christi location's previous and current campuses are upcycled buildings is simply a coincidence. He said he and other leaders -- RMA has eight other locations in Texas -- choose buildings that fit the size of the student body in a particular community, and students' needs.

All learning had been online until Tuesday, and virtual classes are still an option for students.

“We know that parents want options, and we want to provide them,” LaRose said.

Hanna said the new campus does just that, and that it feels anything but old.

“There’s just nothing like the feeling of inviting and welcoming our students into this beautiful new building," she said.