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Education

A First Day Like No Other: Thousands Of Bexar County Students Start Fall Semester Online

Several area schools, including SAISD's Davis Middle School, held a mobile meet the teacher event the week before the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
Provided | San Antonio ISD
Several area schools, including SAISD's Davis Middle School, held a mobile meet the teacher event the week before the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

Monday was the first day of school for about half of the public schools in Bexar County, but instead of catching the bus and finding their new classrooms, students opened their laptops and logged onto Blackboard, Canvas or Zoom.

Eight school districts and three charter networks all started the year remotely to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The two largest school districts that started Monday, the North East and San Antonio Independent School Districts, plan to have phased-in returns to the classroom. North East plans to bring in its first students Sept. 8, and then add more every two weeks as long as health conditions stay stable. 

San Antonio ISD plans to bring in its first students when San Antonio Metro Health lowers its school reopening indicator from red to yellow, and then bring in more when the risk indicator turns green.

Fort Sam Houston ISD has also adopted a phased in-model, with a limited return Sept. 8 and increased face-to-face instruction beginning Oct. 13.

Edgewood ISD has committed to staying remote for the first eight weeks of the semester until Oct. 12. Southside and Lackland ISD have decided to stay remote for at least the first four weeks, with a possible return to the classroom slated for Sept. 14. 

Alamo Heights and East Central are currently planning to give all families the option of either face-to-face or virtual instruction starting Sept. 8.

The Jubilee Academies, Harmony Science Academy and BASIS Texas charter networks also started remotely Monday, following remote starts last week by IDEA Public Schools and Great Hearts Texas. All five charter networks either haven’t announced a date to return to the classroom or have tentative plans for face-to-face instruction after Labor Day.

South San Antonio ISD started its school year last week. Like Edgewood, it is committed to remote learning for the first eight weeks of the semester.

Two of the four suburban school districts located partially in Bexar County also started the 2020-2021 school year last week. Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD followed Bexar County’s lead and opted to remain online until at least Labor Day. Boerne ISD opened all of its campuses for face-to-face instruction Wednesday and reported its first positive case of COVID-19 on Friday.

After a summer to plan and purchase technology, most Bexar County school systems are offering a more structured and rigorous remote learning experience than they did in the spring. Many of the districts have also increased the number of live virtual lessons.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter at @cmpcamille.

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