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How Texas School for the Deaf, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired are preparing for distance learning

The two schools that house students from across the state are now empty and working on a new way of learning for all of their students amid the coronavirus pandemic.

AUSTIN, Texas — At the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Texas School for the Deaf, it's usually a sprawling campus with students at this time, the week after spring break. 

But students at the schools were unable to return this week, like so many at schools all across the state amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Both schools house students, but staff told KVUE they never returned to the campuses and are now at home. Both schools said some of their staff gave up their spring break to begin planning on a new way of educating for the amount of time it takes for school to get back to in-person learning. 

"We are taking it one step at a time. There's so many multiple facets to it," said Claire Bugen, the superintendent for the Texas School for the Deaf. “Obviously we’re a little unique as we’re a local school district that serves students across the state, so some of our challenges with instructional continuity are even more, you know, intense.”

Right now staff there are working on sending material home to those who don't have internet access, according to Bugen.

“What we’re doing right now is a combination of assessing what students have available for online learning, what kind of support they have in the home, and we’re beginning to prepare curriculum materials for all the different grade levels," said Bugen, who also added that meeting app Zoom could be a tool used for teachers.  

Credit: Jackson Grimm

At the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, it's the same situation. 

"We were sort of an as-needed distance learning setup, and now it's – everybody needs it," said Emily Coleman, the superintendent for the school. 

She also said this week has been set aside for planning.

“This week was set aside for planning because last week they were on spring break, and so this week was planning with the expectation that everybody’s ready to go with something starting Monday the 30th," said Coleman. "Our students need continued instructional and social-emotional support like any other student."

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