PREMONT, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott recently unveiled “Operation Connectivity,” his plan in connection with the Texas Education Agency, to get every student in Texas connected to the classroom, regardless of where they live.
Keeping every student connected with campuses closed is a tall order for the largest urban school districts; more so for the rural ones. But in Premont, they’re on the leading edge of remote learning.
“In any rural community, it’s harder and more expensive to educate kids,” said Premont Independent School District Superintendent Steve Van Matre.
When the COVID-19 pandemic closed Texas schools, Premont ISD was prepared with an e-learning plan.
“From one day to the next we’re going from a traditional learning model to 'Here we go, we’re going to do Google Classroom,' ” said Van Matre.
Premont ISD is a district with 93 percent of families considered ‘economically disadvantaged'.. . .That made getting connected a challenge. Van Matre says every student already received a Chromebook to use, but Premont was proactive, and also provided hotspots to every family that needed one.
“We’ve been very comfortable with the connectivity of reaching all of our kids,” said Van Matre. “I don’t think most rural districts can say that.”
“Operation Connectivity” has been applauded statewide: It’s a program similar in many ways to what Premont ISD is already doing.
“We’ve always been, and prided ourselves on, being a model for how to do things,” said Van Marre. “We try to be the gold standard in everything we do.”
While districts don’t know when students will return to the classroom, Premont ISD officials are confident their students will be prepared.