by Sahar Chmais
Dripping Springs ISD began this year’s unique back-to-school journey almost one month ago and will soon reopen its campus doors for students who want to go to school in person.
Karen Kidd, assistant superintendent for DSISD, discussed what the first month has looked like for the district. Overall, they have not had a lot of trouble with online courses, but of course it has not been perfect.
“So far, so good. Everything is running smoothly,” Kidd told the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch. “We have had a few technical issues, like the internet went down for a brief moment in time. But I feel like parents are fairly happy with our services.”
Another issue, which has not proven to be a difficult hurdle, is getting some people or teachers acquainted with Canvas, the online system for school. Last year, when students were sent home, that was the system DSISD used. For the most part, everyone is navigating it properly, but like with any new technology, people need time to fully understand it.
As for parents who are non-English speakers but still need to work with the program, DSISD provided them with translation.
One problem that many districts faced last year was outreach to some students who did not have any technology and could not get in touch with the school. DSISD has fixed that issue and provided internet connection and Chromebooks to all students in need. During the first week, Kidd said there was a small group of students who did not attend courses. By the beginning of the second week, all students were accounted for.
Students went back to school in person Monday. So far, Kidd has seen an average of a 60% return rate, with high school students a few percentage points higher than elementary.
“High school students want to get the experience,” Kidd explained why they have a slightly higher campus return rate.
In order to give all students, in-person and behind the screen, the same quality of education, every teacher will have students on both fronts. This will help kids flex in and out of courses without having to change teachers. If a student is doing online the first nine weeks but decides to go back after, or vice versa, their teachers and courses will not change.
This can be implemented by recording the course and allowing at-home students to join in-person classes through their screens. In a way, Kidd said recording classes every day can be more beneficial. If a student ever needs to go back to re-watch a lesson because they missed some notes or did not understand, they will have that access.
“We are anticipating a beautiful week,” Kidd said. “We know there might be some hiccups here and there with logging on. But [this method]helps students stay with the same teacher and this model keeps a strong relationship and foundation of learning together.”
Kidd said the district is trying to strike the delicate balance between a quality of education across the board, and tending to health and safety needs.