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Premont ISD working to offer remote learning to select students

Students at Premont ISD return to class on August 23. School leaders are trying to find ways to keep parents, staff and students safe and comfortable.

PREMONT, Texas — Premont ISD Superintendent Steve VanMatre predicts this school year will be more challenging than the last and with COVID-19 numbers on the rise he wants to offer remote learning to select students.

“We’re going to offer those students an opportunity to stay at home and still receive basic instruction through remote and then when a vaccine does become available, we hope soon, but who knows, then we’ll go back to face to face for everyone like we’re going to do for our grade 7 through 12 students,” said VanMatre.

Temporary remote learning would be offered to students in grades kinder through 6.

And like VanMatre, Dr. Jaime Fergie with Driscoll Children's Hospital is hoping for a vaccine for children under 12 to be available soon.

“We are expecting that in a few months we will be able to vaccinate everybody. Those studies are going ongoing,” said Dr. Fergie.

VanMatre says he does believe students need to be face to face, but he also understands the concerns parents may have.

“If a family feels it’s unsafe to send their 8- and 10-year-old children to school regardless of what I tell them, regardless of what I do, they’re not gonna put their children in what they feel is an unsafe position so now those children are at home getting no instruction,” said VanMatre.

And although the state did not include virtual learning in school funding the district is finding a way.

“I cannot look a mother in the face and say that I'm not going to educate your child because of money, I’m not receiving any money so therefore I’m not going to be able to educate your child. I can’t do that,” said VanMatre.

VanMatre says enrollment growth and funding are helping to make this possible.

“I can afford, not forever, but I can afford for at least 7 months and hopefully a vaccine will come on board for kids under 12,” said VanMatre.

Remote learning isn’t the only initiative VanMatre is hoping to get approved.

“Another initiative that I’m going to ask for board approval is to try to incentivize our staff to be vaccinated in offering a $300 bonus,” said VanMatre.

This incentive and temporary remote learning are just a few steps being made to make sure students can learn and be safe.

“Student performance and achievement is a big deal but what is even a bigger deal is safety,” said VanMatre.

The district sent the following letter to parents regarding the temporary remote learning.  

Credit: Premont ISD

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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