In preparation for the closures, NBISD implemented remote learning opportunities for students on March 23, including iPad distribution to elementary students who typically leave their devices at school.
During the 2012-2013 school year, the district implemented a one-to-one iPad program which provided personal learning devices to all students in the district.
The program is part of the district’s “Transforming Every Classroom in the 21st Century” (TEC21) initiative which aims to incorporate the use of technology and project-based learning in lessons for all grade levels.
“When I first started, [NBISD] had little to no technology,” said Chase Hyland, a history teacher at New Braunfels High School who has worked in the district for ten years. “The switch to online distance learning has been so smooth because the students have the equipment.”
NBISD students have online access to lessons, assignments and grades and teachers have been able to conduct virtual classes through videoconferencing software like Zoom.
Parents have access to instructional materials for how to use the online learning options, create browser restrictions for their children’s devices and how to help their children join class calls on the TEC21 University webpage.
According to Dr. Victoria Pursch, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for NBISD, the curriculum available to students online during the closure will serve to continue student’s education and help teachers track their progress.
“We’re not going to do fluffy stuff,” Pursch said. “This is important course work—we don’t want to postpone any student being able to graduate.”
Teachers will grade online assignments and assessments to determine student’s comprehension, though the full weight of these grades has yet to be decided.
“The integrity of grading for this quarter will be a challenge,” Pursch said.
Students who are part of the Special Education program (SE) and have an Individualized Education Program have also begun virtual distance learning with their SE teachers, SE paraprofessional staff, learning specialists and general education teachers, according to Martha Moke, executive director of special education for NBISD.
“Our SE teachers and paraprofessional staff are also communicating with their general education counterparts that have SE students in their classes in order to also ensure the provision of accommodations and behavioral supports,” Moke said in an email.
For families without reliable access to the internet, NBISD has created a school wifi network at each campus that anyone can access, as well as providing information about internet service providers in the area.
“We’re not going to be able to provide learning to the quality of having a teacher in the classroom,” Pursche said. “But we’re going to get as close as possible.”
Additional information regarding the district’s meal pick-up service, parent resources and student virtual class schedules can be found on the district’s website.