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Caldwell Intermediate School students return to the classroom

“Face to face and person to person, the relationship piece will always help students learn better, more, and faster.”
Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 1:14 PM CDT
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CALDWELL, Texas (KBTX) - Many schools across the Brazos Valley welcomed in students for the new school year Tuesday. Fourth through sixth graders at Caldwell Intermediate in Burleson County was excited to return to the classroom.

Larea Gamble, the school’s principal, says day one of the school year is off to a good start and it’s especially good to have the students back in the classroom where they belong. Gamble says that children need structure and routine, which they can’t get from virtual learning.

“We worked very hard to give quality instruction to our students when they were learning virtually, but nothing takes the place of contact with the teacher and the relationship between a student and a teacher, and that’s very hard to convey virtually,” said Gamble. “Face to face and person to person, the relationship piece will always help students learn better, more, and faster.”

For some students, Like Lawonder Smith’s daughter, Shauna, Tuesday was the first time they stepped on campus since the pandemic’s start.

“She excelled at virtual learning. She did well except for her social skills,” said Smith. “They need to be in a classroom setting with other kids. Now she’s back with her friends. Kids can communicate and talk to people the way they’re supposed to and learn the way it was intended for them to learn.”

Smith says although she does have some concerns, she’s prepped her daughter with the tools necessary to stay as safe and healthy as she can.

“I do have concerns. We have people in our family with underlying health conditions,” said Smith. “Our child has the chance or opportunity to wear her mask. She can wear her mask. We’ve talked about making sure that she takes care of her hygiene, she washes her hands. She sanitizes her hands, and I believe that we’ll be fine. We put our trust in God, and so we’re going to work from there.”

Mary Enrique Pineda’s daughter Patsy struggled with online learning.

“At-home learning, we struggled as far as staying on task and trying to focus and learning her skills, math skills, and reading skills,” said Pineda.

School officials say challenges may come this school year, but they’re ready to meet them head-on.

“The principals are working really hard getting plans together for dealing with the ‘what if’ scenarios. I have a team of nurses and nurses assistance and LVNs as well. They are providing testing, and they’re also checking on kids, making sure they’re healthy, checking on staff,” said Andy Peters, Caldwell ISD Superintendent. “We test staff members almost every day, those that want to make sure we’re healthy and ready to be at school.

“There are always challenges when you have this many people in one location. We have some new house bills that we’re working hard to meet the criteria and requirements of,” said Gamble. “But we have an amazing staff and amazing support from our district. Our theme this year is ‘We are in it to win it’ because we’re working for each child to be successful.”

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