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'We were prepared for it': Districts react to Gov. Abbott's decision to keep schools closed

For Texas students and schools, the finish line to an extraordinary and unprecedented situation has been pushed further into the horizon.

SAN ANTONIO — Distance-learning is here to stay in San Antonio, at least for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

Governor Greg Abbott announced the decision at a press conference Friday afternoon. Most Texas schools were set to finish the school year in late May or early June, throwing annual events like proms and graduations into logistical purgatory. 

"The coronavirus pandemic has gripped the entire globe," Abbott said.

Abbott said the state is still figuring out the plan for high school graduations and collegiate summer semesters.

Aubrey Chancellor, the executive director of communications for North East ISD, said administrators there were hoping to have students back in the classroom at some point. She said that while it's disappointing that won't happen this year, she understands the situation.  

"I don't think we were surprised. We've known that this could be a very real possibility," Chancellor said. "We fully support that safety, health—they have to come before anything else. So that is definitely our priority."

Chancellor said this decision won't alter their plans. NEISD still intends to finish the year strong, even under the fluid circumstances.

"We were prepared for it. Nothing changes in the way of our distance learning situation, our curbside meals; those will still be offered," she said. "Our teachers will continue to work just as hard as they have been. We're just now going to have to do it a little bit longer."

Seguin ISD Superintendent Dr. Matthew Gutierrez jumped on a Zoom call with a few of his students to break the news directly. He also shared his feelings on Facebook. 

"Learning that our students weren’t returning has made for an emotionally tough day," Gutierrez said. "My heart goes out to our learning community, especially the Class of 2020."

Chancellor said the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has required virtually everyone to make adjustments, but distance won't keep them from doing their best.

"This is obviously unprecedented, but I think we've really shown how we can come all come together," Chancellor said. "We're going to push through and make the most of the rest of the year."

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