CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On Monday, Corpus Christi Independent School District high school students who were previously on a hybrid schedule, and some students who were learning virtually, will return to in-person learning for the final six weeks of school.
The change will affect the high schools that were using a hybrid schedule: Carroll, King, Moody, Ray, and Veterans Memorial.
“We’re excited, we can’t wait to see our kids again,” said Veterans Memorial principal Scott Walker. “This process has been, from day one, different options in terms of their instructional delivery, but we’re excited to have more of our students come back to receive face-to-face instruction.”
Walker said the preparations for Monday are not much different than what the school has been doing during the school year so far. Now, they are now just preparing for more students to be on campus.
“We’re focused right now on increasing the volume, and being prepared for the increase in volume of students coming back." Walker said. "But in the guidelines, the mitigation, and the techniques we’re using, it’s really the same throughout the entire year."
Walker isn’t the only person excited to have more students on campus. Theater Arts teacher Laurel Brashears is also looking forward to having more of her students back in the classroom.
“I am actually very excited to see more kids in my classroom," Brashears said. "Because I teach theater, it’s very difficult to reach through that screen, build that relationship with my students, and try to get them to come out of their shell. So, when I see more faces in my classroom on Monday, I’m just going to be ecstatic."
Parents and students are also excited about the return to in-person learning at Veterans Memorial, according to Dr. Jacob Dryden, the school's dean of instruction.
“We’re excited to have them back. I think a lot of parents are excited to get their students back," Dryden said. "We’re getting a lot of phone calls, emails from students, saying they’re excited to be back, so I think April 26 is going to be a big day with us."
Dryden is looking forward to having closer to a typical number of students in the building, even if it is just for the final few weeks of the year.
“At the beginning of the process, it was like a ghost town," he said. "We had a couple hundred students that had come back, throughout the year we’ve had more and more students. It’s starting to feel, and I’m sure on April 26 it will feel even more, like a normal year."
Virtual learning is still an option for CCISD students.
At Veterans Memorial, 875 students will finish out the school year in person, which is just under half the student population.
Walker said the school has put an emphasis on adding and spacing out tables in the cafeteria, since students will need to be spread out while eating and drinking, as well as making sure desks in classrooms as properly spaced, and there are enough desk shields for each student.
“We spent a lot of time, and a lot of logistics, in making sure we have the environment prepared, and that we’re within the guidelines that we need to be to keep our students safe,” Walker said.
While there are only six weeks left in the school year, Walker and Dryden said they want to finish out the year strong.
With STAAR and AP tests on the horizon, the school is focusing on making sure students are safe when taking those tests. Students will be properly socially distanced while taking the tests, chrome books will be sanitized between students using them, and students will be allowed to return to their classroom upon finishing their STAAR tests and not have to wait around for the testing time to end.
“We know this has been difficult for our students, we know that being at home is not easy," Walker said. "So, the more students we feel we can get in the building receiving that face-to-face instruction, not only from a curriculum standpoint, but from a relationship standpoint with their teachers, we know we will set them up to be successful as we finish out the year strong. That’s what we really want to do."
Brashears said she will try to make up for lost time with her students, and make their final six weeks enjoyable in her classroom.
“My plans have exploded, because I’m going to have so many more kids in my classroom than I’ve had, that I plan to bust out all the fun stuff; the theater games, the improv, and all the stuff we haven’t been able to do online," she said. "I'm going to try to make these last six weeks the best six weeks."