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Austin ISD's first day of school was all virtual

Some teachers taught online classes from inside their classrooms at the brand-new Bear Creek Elementary.

AUSTIN, Texas — First-grade teacher Karen Preston is all about meeting her students.

"I love it because I love getting to know the kids," Preston said. 

While excited for the first day of school, Preston said teaching online does have its challenges. 

"Do you have siblings that are on Zoom at the same time you are? Younger siblings that the parents need to focus on. You know, some of these kids, the parents have told me they actually will have to leave at a certain time to drive somewhere else," Preston explained.

David Crissey is the principal at Bear Creek Elementary. For $36.2 million, he said up to 522 students can learn in a modernized environment.

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"One is lighting. A natural light has proven to promote social, emotional health and academic achievement. Also, collaborative spaces are promoting that social, emotional health and those in those academic behaviors and also those things that our children are really going to need when they actually start working," Crissey said.

When in-person learning resumes Oct. 6, Crissey said they are prepared with safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Right now, he wants to make sure the community makes the right choices.

"And I just want to make sure that people remain diligent when, you know, numbers might make you relax a little bit and drop your shoulders. So my only concerns are not our protocols, but just making sure that everybody is making good choices about handwashing and staying home when they're sick and truly going through those screening questions," he said.

Because a spike in COVID-19 cases may be all it takes to keep these classrooms empty even longer.

While in-person learning starts next month, students not comfortable with returning to the classroom may continue virtual learning. 

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