Forty percent of students in the Pflugerville Independent School District are returning to campuses Tuesday, as the district opens up to all students who opt for in-person instruction.
The district started the school year with buildings at 25% capacity, but under Texas Education Agency guidelines, all students who choose in-person learning can now return. Families made decisions at the end of September about whether to send students back.
Students can transition at any time from in-person to virtual learning, but the option to come back to campus can only be made every nine weeks.
District spokesperson Tamra Spence said the option is available only during that window because individual schools need to figure out how to accommodate the total number of students, which varies widely.
“We are doing our best to keep our in-person class sizes as small as we can for as long as we can,” she said.
Spence said schools could add lunch periods, change bell schedules and passing periods, or make traffic through hallways one-way. Students could also be taught by a different teacher, she said. Those decisions are up to the principals.
District-wide health and safety protocols will stay in place, like custodial services and sanitizers and cleansers for students and faculty.
“Those protocols don’t really change,” Spence said. “They just kind of increase as more kids come into the building.”
Though the Pflugerville ISD board of trustees approved a hybrid model for high schoolers, Spence said the district is not implementing at this time. Students will choose between online and in-person instruction only, and class schedules will remain the same as they would for any school year.
“Should the need arise for various reasons then at least we have that waiver" to shift to a hybrid model, Spence said, "and we can move into that quickly if we need to do so."
The hybrid model would have allowed students to spend some days on campus and some off. Multiple models were considered in preparation for a large return of students or a spike in cases.
The district recently updated the COVID-19 dashboard used to report positive cases and exposures of students and faculty. As of Saturday, the district reported a cumulative total of 24 positive cases.
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