WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released an opinion last week stating religious private schools do not have to comply with local health orders on school closures, and can decide for themselves whether to reopen classes.
Regardless of when they do reopen, private schools in Wichita Falls say they will have enhanced safety measures. Wichita Christian will allow students to learn from home or the classroom. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Wichita Christian is preparing to teach students in as safe and healthy environment as possible.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that schools should have students learn in the classroom, because of the negative impact that spring closures had on students. With a goal to teach students both in the classroom and remotely, Wichita Christian School is planning accordingly.
“We’re able to facilitate a 10 to 1 ratio with a few more students that we can add into the kindergarten and first grade programs because smaller students take up smaller spaces,” Wichita Christian School elementary principal Courtney Cummings said.
“We will also have the ability to have online learning if a student is sick so they don’t miss a beat of education. And we want to make sure that they are getting all of the tools and everything that they need,” Wichita Christian School secondary principal Julie Foster said.
Students that do attend school will be required to wear masks and have their temperatures checked. Teachers will also wear face shields in the classrooms and teachers and students will have a 10 minute transition period to clean classrooms between classes. Wichita Christian officials have some ideas about how to get students to wear masks.
“The key element with elementary students is going to be making the mask something that is fun,
not cumbersome. I have told parents we want it to be comfortable,” Cummings said.
Notre Dame Catholic is also giving students options for this school year. Christ Academy is still developing its re-entry plan. But as for Wichita Christian, they are excited to teach their students any way they can.
“They want to see their friends with appropriate distancing of course. And they want to see their teachers even,” WCS superintendent Karla Wallace said. “They found out this spring how important it was just to be in the classroom. So school became a lot more desirable I think and that’s a hidden blessing in the whole thing.”
Wichita Christian is another school hoping to return to as normal a teaching environment as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wichita Christian will have their first day of school on August 13.