By Robbie Owens

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Can you say “so-long summer?” For some Dallas ISD students, summer break ended Friday. Students at several campuses will head back to class on Monday as the district looks to address COVID’s academic slide with more time in the classroom.

“It was really stressful,” admits Dallas ISD parent Jeraldin Garcia. “There were days that were like,`how can I do this?'”

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Jeraldin and her husband, Julian, had their hands full trying to manage online learning with six busy little ones, all under the age of 10. While doing her best, Jeraldin says the kids just weren’t learning.

“It was really crazy,” she admits, her eyes filling with tears. “There were days I just wanted to give up… but I have to do it for my kids.”

So despite ongoing worries about COVID-19, the Garcias say their kids need to be back in the classroom. They were among the families voting to extend the school year to help get students back on track. At H.I. Holland, students return to campus earlier than others and will end the school year later as well.

“They’ve been ready,” adds H.I. Holland mom Jeanna White, “They were ready during summertime.” White says an abbreviated summer break, is a small price to pay.”

“They get to be around the other children,” says White. “Some kids learn by seeing the other kids do things and being front and center with the teacher.”

H.I. Holland’s school leadership has been working for months to redesign both the campus calendar and the academic day, but they also say making gains also involves the right mindset. So, the theme of this school year is going “Under Construction: redesigning today, for a brighter tomorrow.”

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“It’s broken all up now, COVID did that for us,” says H.I. Holland Principal Shanieka Christmas-McDonald. “But guess what? Now, we’re building it back stronger.”

Principal Christmas-McDonald doesn’t mince words.

“We had gaps prior to COVID, so I’m not going to use COVID as an excuse — because guess what? There was work to be done before a pandemic. That may have given us a little bit more time to get the scholars where they need to be. But ultimately, the fight is still the same fight we had. It’s just a larger gap because of the last year and a half of school,” the principal says.

Christmas-McDonald says she sees her younger self in her scholars, and that alone demands that she set the bar high.

“I am what I serve,” says Christmas-McDonald. “That’s why it’s much more important to me that we really find a way to make sure our scholars are successful. We have to find a way.”

And parents are trusting that they will.

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“I’m a Mom, I do what Moms do,” says Garcia. “So, the teachers, they know what’s best for the kids at school. I’m so thankful for the teachers.”