El Paso students prepare to return to school virtually in the age of COVID


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, El Paso area schools will start the fall semester online. Typically, students in the El Paso Independent School District would be heading into school Monday morning. However, that is not the case. Students will start virtually the following Monday.

“Since I’m going into high school and it’s a new school, I did really want to go not virtually but in-person,” said Nathalia Ochoa, who is about to start 9th grade in EPISD.

Despite her disappointment, Nathalia says she understands why school is online.

“Things happen for a reason, and when this is all over, which I think will be soon. We’ll all go back to normal, and we’ll learn to appreciate everything a little more than we used too,” said Nathalia Ochoa.

The El Paso Teachers Association says virtual learning will be different than it was in the spring.

“School will be as if they were face-to-face, so parents need to understand that attendance will be taken this year, and it will be counted,” said Norma De La Rosa, President of the El Paso Teachers Association. “Grades will be given, there will be no pass or fail as it was in the Spring. So that means that students are going to have to get online. They are going to have to get to class; they are going to have to get their work done.”

She says the hope is to make it as similar to in-person teaching as possible. For middle school and high school students, they will have six different periods a day, virtually.

Students will spend more time with their teachers every day virtually compared to what they did in the Spring semester.

“They’re not going to be face-to-face, but something that is similar to that I think that would help. I think even if it’s virtual — I think they can make it if they do get that extra training,” said Ariela Orellana, an El Paso mother of two.

The El Paso Teachers Association explains virtual learning will last until at least mid-October. However, depending on the number of COVID-19 cases in El Paso, it could be extended through the end of 2020.

“You know teachers are just as anxious to go back into the building as everybody else. You know we want to be there with our students, and you know, have that kind of interaction, face to face with our students. But we also have to be concerned about what is happening now, these are not regular times,” said De La Rosa.

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