KEENE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – For the first time since March, Monday night is a school night for hundreds of students in Johnson County.
School districts in Keene and Godley plan to open Tuesday, with students both on campus, and learning virtually. In Keene, more than 70% of the student body was expected to return in person.
Monday, the district was still working on installing touchless water fountains, and waiting on a delayed shipment of face gaiters but otherwise ready, according to superintendent Dr. Ricky Stephens.
“We want to be an example for others that are coming behind us,” he said. “We want to be able to say here’s what we did right. We want to be honest and say here’s what we did wrong. And there’s honestly going to be things we did right that end up turning out wrong.”
In a city that has had less than 70 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Stephens said the district had determined the advantages for in-person education outweighed the disadvantages.
They have tried to mitigate risk through recommended safeguards on campus. Parents were asked to screen their children for illness each day. Masks are required for students above the age of 10. There are capacity limits on tables in the cafeteria and students walking between classes will be asked to follow traffic patterns.
Most teachers are returning, Stephens said. In one science classroom, a laptop was set up to live-stream classes to students who will be staying home. An iPad was also set up to record the session so it could be viewed later.
Teachers will be disinfecting desks between periods, and the district has hired extra staff to wipe down surfaces during the day.
The school had taken a room across from the school nurses station, and outfitted it to become a COVID-isolation space. Any student found to potentially have symptoms, could then wait there while others could still see the nurse in the regular setting.
“The last thing we need to do is bring back kids who are emotionally scarred, developmentally set back a bit from not being in school, and then make them feel like they’re coming into a prison or some kind of captive place to go to school,” Stephens said. “We want them to still feel like they’re in school.”