Months after tornado destroyed their school, some Dallas ISD students now facing challenge of home learning

Texas schools will be closed until May 4. That means classwork will remain as "at-home work" in the weeks to come.

For Dallas ISD students, learning from home is becoming a unique norm.

Virtual teaching is new for a lot of North Texas teachers. But during this coronavirus pandemic, it’s the only way to keep students engaged and educated.

This is the new normal for thousands of students in Dallas ISD.

Physical education, math, and other classes all being done in virtual classrooms.

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“My set up has taken over my kitchen. It’s a little crazy looking,” Thomas Jefferson High School teacher Abigail Rufer said. “I think there aren't many people who can say their school has been closed by a tornado and pandemic within six months, so that’s been a crazy change of events.”

The challenge of teaching students from home is just another hurdle teachers at Thomas Jefferson HS have had to face.

Not long after the start of the school year, a tornado destroyed the school.

Now, because of the coronavirus, schools are closed until May 4 at the earliest.

“There’s a misconception that virtual learning or work from home is less work or more off time,” Rufer said. “Going in after spring break, it’s been trying to contact families, get kids internet, get kids in the classroom, it is just starting to settle down a little bit and get into a routine.”

Schools and parents have been sharing their experiences using #DallasISDatHome on Twitter.

Rufer says it’s a labor of love to make sure every student gets the needed attention to retain what’s being taught.

“It’s definitely been a day-by-day experience. Some kids are using their computer, some are using their phones, teaching the kids how to get on a Zoom class. We spent yesterday teaching the kids how to mute their videos because theres a lot of background noise,” Rufer said. “This situation has really highlighted a lot of inequities that our kids in Dallas ISD face. Not having access to internet, not having access to getting into a digital classroom. I am thankful the district has a plan to get those kids hot spots.”

The district has already ordered more mobile hotspots so every student who needs internet access can have it.

Parents have to contact their student’s principal so they can be put on a list to get the mobile hotspot.