PANOLA COUNTY, Tx. (KSLA) - Since mid-March, Panola Schools has kept its three institutions across East Texas shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On the morning of Tuesday, August 11, classrooms reopened with teachers, students, parents and administrators anxious to return to some sense of normalcy.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be back with these students again,” said Karen Tarjick, a teacher at Panola Early College High School. “Through the day, it’s wonderful to be here with these students and to see them interacting and caring for each other.”
But, with the coronavirus pandemic still present across Texas, noticeable changes will be made in the classroom. Students and faculty will be required to wear masks and new cleaning equipment was purchased to disinfect common areas.
For parents Melissa Ingle and Donna Kushner, allowing their children to return to Panola Schools has help partially relieve the heavy challenge of home education.
“Being at home, you can talk to people or text them, but it’s different from face-to-face contact,” she added.
“I’m excited for them to learn in this environment,” Kushner said. “School offers something that home does not, my kids are very hands on.”
Despite the changes being made to welcome people back into Panola Schools, the district also surveyed its students to find out which planned to learn virtually and face-to-face.
Interestingly, according to Superintendent Bud Worley, only four of the over 40 students at Panola Early College High School chose distanced learning.
“At our other campuses, we’re at a forty or fifty percent rate of virtual learners,” Worley explained. “Spring Break is over.”
According to a memo on the district’s website, students who select the virtual route will be at-home for six weeks at a time.
Panola Schools is also providing students with Chromebooks and WiFi hot spots for students learning from afar.
Students, of course, are eager to see friends and family again in the classroom setting. Many disliked how isolating quarantines and shutdowns were.
“During the quarantine you really couldn’t hang out with your friends,” said Noah Vanderslice, a freshman.
“I’m really excited to be back and see my teachers and friends and basically my family,” said Kelsea Vanderslice, a senior.
“I’m ready to see my friends and get back to school and back to learning stuff,” said Sarah Kushner, another senior.