BRYAN, Texas — Many schools across the state are utilizing tools virtually to help instruction for this upcoming year, but a few schools have decided to have the entire campus return in-person.
Brazos Christian School is preparing its classrooms for the new year and for the return of students on-campus. When schools shut down abruptly last spring, and schools everywhere went virtual, it didn't come without challenges.
“At my age, I had to learn a lot of technology and a lot of new approaches I had not used before," said Melinda James, a sixth-grade teacher at BCS.
Students and teachers start the new year on August 12 , and the virtual challenges they faced last spring won’t be an issue, at least for the beginning of the year.
“What we’re really trying to do is come back to school, the way that we do school, and the way that our parents want to be able to have their kids back in school," said Jeffrey McMaster, the headmaster for BCS. "We will incorporate these new behaviors that let us be able to do that while still keeping kids safe.”
These new behaviors the private school plans on incorporating are distancing measures, mandating face masks and sanitizing and disinfecting.
The school has approximately 430 students enrolled for the 2020-2021 school year. With no more than roughly 20 students per classroom, the school cannot physically distance every student six feet apart. Instead, students will be placed in groups and they will distance themselves from other groups.
“It is minimizing interaction between first grade and second grade, between this sixth-grade group and the other sixth-grade class," McMaster said.
If COVID-19 symptoms start showing up in one group, this system will allow the school to minimize the risk of exposure to the rest of the school.
Mask mandates will only apply to staff members and students from fourth through 12th grade. For third grade and below, the school has placed clear dividers at each desk to provide a mask alternative.
Teachers will be implementing sanitation techniques for their students like regular hand washing and disinfecting before going, and entering another location on campus. Teachers will also wipe off all surfaces in the classroom before students enter.
“We are going to have personal bags for each child in my grade level where they could actually write on a dry erase board and it wouldn’t be used by anyone else," James said.
For families that are not comfortable sending their child back on-campus, Brazos Christian School said it supports them “making a different decision" for the next year.
Brazos Christian School will meet with the Brazos County Health District and a few other private schools in the area next week to discuss more on the return to on campus.