GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) – When North Texas schools reopen for in-person learning, most classrooms will have a new look to them. But what will that look like exactly?
“They can still see their friends. They can still interact with their friends. They just have to do it from a little bit of a distance,” said Renee Kotsopoulos, director of Health Services for the district.
Fifteen desks can fit into the 4th grade classroom at Katherine Stephens Elementary School, six feet of separation between each one. Three-way plastic barriers surround not just the teacher’s desk but each student’s.
“It’s really more to protect the students and the teachers as they’re up there teaching,” Kotsopoulos said. “A teacher can’t simply sit behind the desk and be effective, so she is going to have to walk around, so this will aid on that.”
CBS 11 went inside one of Garland ISD’s model classrooms for the new school year, the result of brainstorming and purchasing in a quickly-changing landscape. Officials say most of the funding came from the CARES Act. The district also approved hiring an additional custodial employee for each school.
“Every day, they will do nothing but wipe down high-touch point areas,” said Jimmy Beach, director of Custodial and Maintenance Service for GISD. “For instance, they’ll clean the shields, doorknobs, countertops. They’ll do it four times a day, every two hours.”
And after school each day as well. The hallways also have new additions: direction arrows and social distance markings. And every student must wear a face covering and will be provided with a mask and a face shield. The goal, officials said, is to make the classroom feel as normal as possible during a time that is anything but.
“What we want to do is provide a warm and inviting environment for them,” said Kotsopoulos.
As of now, Garland ISD will start school virtually on August 10 and then give families a choice of in-person or virtual starting September 8. District officials said about 60% of families have chosen virtual so far.