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Bandera County school closures extended

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Bandera County’s three public school districts and a Pipe Creek private school are working hard to limit the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic as they implement Gov. Greg Abbott’s mandate that will keep Texas students out of the classroom until at least April 3.

The Bandera, Medina and Utopia Independent School Districts and Pipe Creek Christian Church had planned to send students back to class on Monday, March 23, but the governor’s March 19 mandates added at least two weeks to that planned return date.

School officials could not be certain last week if that return date would be extended again.

All the school districts indicate that they were providing students with free breakfasts and lunches through the extended time off.

Bandera ISD moved this week from a daily delivery of meals at both Hill Country Elementary and Bandera Middle School to a three-day delivery schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Officials said students taking part in the food service could get multiple meals at each stop.

Each school district also had set up programs that enabled students and their families to get course material to study at home and reviews to complete and turn in when new batches of instruction are picked up.

BISD Superintendent Jerry Hollingsworth said beginning on Monday, March 23, students could access online lessons through Google Classroom.

But students without reliable internet access or a computer also could still obtain instructional packets at Hill Country Elementary and Bandera Middle where the food distributions are occurring. Medina ISD Superin

Medina ISD Superintendent Kevin Newsom said the district would continue to pick up curriculum packets from students every Monday but also had some online curriculum studies available for students to work on as well.

He said the instructional process had worked wonderfully during its first week of operation.

Newsom encouraged MISD students and parents to continue to monitor the school REMIND app, the school Facebook page and the Medina ISD website for updates on school activities.

Utopia ISD Superintendent Jessi Milam said officials there were using social media to keep the community informed about what the district was providing during the prolonged closure.

Take-home instructional packets and online instruction also had been made available to students in Utopia ISD to keep them involved in learning while school was out, she said.

Similar learning programs were being offered to students at the Pipe Creek Christian School, said spokeswoman Patricia Huckabee. Remote learning started at that school on Monday, March 23.

Scott Gossett, the school’s administrator, said in a letter to families involved in the school’s instruction that teachers would be available for assistance by phone and text.

Hollingsworth told BISD parents that graduation plans for seniors had not changed.

The district said on its website that it was requesting a waiver from the Texas Education Agency so the instructional days lost to the outbreak would not have to be made up.

Some level of instructional support for students will need to be demonstrated to the TEA to win that waiver, officials said. What kind of support would be the best was still under evaluation.