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Hundreds of Central Texas students log into virtual classrooms this week; school leaders discuss expectations

School officials said distance learning for the 2020-21 school year will be an adjustment.

AUSTIN, Texas — Aug. 13 is the start of the school year for the Pflugerville, Lago Vista and Leander school districts and all of their students will learn online. School leaders want parents to remember that patience is key. 

"We know that it's not going to be perfect. We know that we're going to have students who are struggling with Wi-Fi connectivity issues. Kids may get kicked off at some point during the lesson, but grace will be provided. And we're going to do all that we can to ensure that students are able to connect with their teachers and connect with their students," said Jennifer Collins, Leander ISD's assistant superintendent of curriculum enterprise.

RELATED: LIST: What local school districts are planning for back-to-school

Collins said on Thursday, LISD will focus on building relationships and focus on establishing routines. She said there will be a lot of questions answered for students on how to use platforms, when to log on and when to log off.

"I think that parents should take time today to ensure that their students have a designated place where they're going to work throughout the day. And in that place, they should have their laptop or other devices ready to go with the chargers and all of those kinds of things," Collins said. "Some of our parents likely will be in the background trying to support their students, especially our youngest learners. And that's perfectly OK. But parents do not need to log on separately from their students tomorrow [Thursday]."

LISD teachers will take attendance in virtual learning every class period.

"Attendance will be reported at the beginning of the day like we typically do," Collins said. "But then if students, for some reason, we're not connected at the beginning of the day, teachers can go back in and change attendance."

2020-21 Checklist for Families If your secondary student currently has a laptop in their possession that was issued during the2019-20 school year, they will need to pay the fee as an mLISD participant in order to keep theirdevice for the upcoming school year.

LISD is connecting with families without internet, but it's a small percentage of students. The district anticipates starting to bring students back for on-campus on Sept. 8. 

"We know it's going to be different than anything we've ever experienced before. Our teachers are super excited about seeing the students and even though it's going to feel different, we're ready to support. And don't be nervous or frustrated if the technology doesn't work like the first time. Reach out. We want to support you because we want to get students connected to their learning," Collins said.

Wednesday night, LISD said technology issues led them to cancel Thursday and Friday classes for high school students, but elementary and middle students will start as scheduled.

"I think it's one of those things like soldiers in the battlefield," said Franchesa Mejia, a Pflugerville ISD music teacher.

Some PfISD teachers, like Mejia, feel like they need more time to learn online platforms before school starts. But Mejia said she's trying to stay optimistic. 

"We're in this together, and I have to rely on you and you're going to rely on me. And if we do our part, we can actually make this incredibly successful," Mejia said. 

The biggest school district in the KVUE viewing area, Austin ISD, recently released its on-campus plan. The first day of its school year will be Sept. 8. If any student doesn't have technology or internet for remote learning, on-campus learning will be available to them.

RELATED: Austin ISD students could soon get help from local libraries and parks

Starting Oct. 5, all AISD families have the option to send kids back to campuses or keep them learning from home. The school district will phase students into school buildings the entire month of October.

Families have the flexibility to changes their minds as the school year continues. However, AISD said plans could change depending on local health conditions. 

Lago Vista ISD families are asked to review the school district's "Lago Vista ISD Back-to-School Remote Online Learning Plan for Students." The document outlines the schedules and expectations for remote learning for all students.

"The key to successful remote instruction will be our commitment to providing our remote learners with a strong instructional experience that provides the same expectations and experiences as students in the classroom," the document states.

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