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The first day of school during the COVID-19 pandemic was not typical

It wasn't a typical first day of school as Alief ISD students began their year learning virtually.

HOUSTON — It's wasn't a traditional first day of school that would have involved actually going to school after the summer break. This year, during the coronavirus pandemic, Alief ISD started class Thursday but students were learning remotely with laptops provided by the district.

Robin Human is the principal at Heflin Elementary. She opened up about the challenges of starting the school year virtually.

Did things go smoothly?

Human: "It seems like it has. Yes. Probably the biggest challenge, I guess, of course, is just that sense of disconnectedness. This is definitely not the typical first day of school."

How do to help parents who are working at home when they have young kids?

Human: "That's a tough one. And, you know, our message to parents is just, you know, do the best you can. You know, we understand this is hard.

"We're doing several things to try to make that easier. For one thing, the teachers are recording all of their lessons and keeping those available in their online courses so that if someone misses a lesson, they would still have access to that information. And the demonstration from the teacher later. Teachers also are more than ready to flex their time a little bit if they need to, to provide assistance to individual students or parents or ... a small group time at some other time beyond the typical school hours."

When will Alief ISD students be in class?

Human: "You know, if I had a crystal ball, I might be able to give you an answer. As soon as it is safe enough. And the health conditions in our community are safe enough for students and staff to be in school and families to be protected and all of that."

Are you prepared to go virtual for the whole year?

Human: "Yes. I mean, we could sustain the virtual instruction for as long as necessary. We have the resources we need to be able to do that.

Do you want to do that?

Human: "No, none of us would like for that to continue. We really want kids to be in school. There's so much that they gain from that, you know, face-to-face interaction. There's you know, there's so much that can be done when you've got everybody here in real-time.