The start of new – hopefully normal – school year

School began in our district last Monday. And unlike last year, we began with the kids going back to the school buildings. Even though the Delta variant is surging in Texas, there is no virtual learning option this year. And while last week during the middle school orientation days, masks were mandatory, we begin this school year with them only recommended.

Now I don’t want to get into the heated debate on whether masks work or don’t, whether they are being used as muzzles, or whether the school has any right to require them. I’m not a doctor or an expert. And yes, I have read all sorts of things on the internet but know that as with most things you can find data to support your stance. If the school district says wear a mask, my kids will wear one. If it is optional, I will let my kids decide. Jase didn’t hesitate with his decision to wear one. Lexie took one and decided to wear it when she saw many other students doing the same. Or maybe she is doing it to hide the gap in her front teeth that is a result of the palate expander.

One main difference Jase noticed this year is that there are a LOT of students at the high school. Last year less than half were in-person. Now we have 3200 students using the 5 minute passing period to get to their next class. Lunch has over 1000 people and while last year finding a place to sit was easy, now Jase is sitting on the ground outside. The school day is no longer shortened as it was last year. He leaves on the bus at 8:20 for an 8:50 start and then school gets over at 4:20 and he is home around 4:50. This year’s classes include Orchestra, Algebra II, English, Chemistry, Spanish, World History, and Principles of Arts, Audio/Visual & Communication.

Lexie is now in 8th grade, her final year of middle school. Her day is back to being a full day of schooling too. She goes from 8:20 to 3:50. Her classes include Honors English, Honors Science, Algebra I, Principles of Applied Engineering, Gym, Study Hall, U.S. History and Art. Her Algebra, Engineering and Art classes are all high school classes and count as a high school credit. When she is done with middle school she will have 4 high school credits as she took Principles of Human Services last year. We had hoped to get her another 1/2 credit by taking the High School health credit but she opted to be an office aide for the second half of the year after she gets her 1 semester of required gym out of the way.

The first week went well, and the kids came home daily excited about school. Lexie did miss school on Friday. She developed a sore throat and that is one of the conditions they say if your student has that they should be kept home in case it is COVID. She stayed home and slept a lot. We did a home COVID test on her which was negative. It appears she just has a cold and since she is doing much better, she will be returning to school today.

Our school board did have an emergency meeting about the rising Covid numbers. They have decided to enforce a mask mandate starting today. Right now whether school districts can issue mask mandates is being decided in the court system – and as of Thursday, they can. Our governor would have it be a personal decision and had banned any city, county or school district. But the school district has numbers from the first week that already show COVID numbers are high in the schools compared to last year when they had masks and other precautions in place.

It is looking to be an interesting year. And I for one am glad that the students are back in school and have some of their normal activities happening.

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