Raymondville begins school year with remote, classroom learning

RAYMONDVILLE — Nearly 2,000 students started the school year Monday on their home computers while about 200 returned to classrooms as officials took precautions to protect them against the coronavirus.

About 90 percent of the district’s 2,160 students got on their computers to start on-line classes as part of a four-week transitional period during which administrators plan to prepare for their return to classroom learning.

Meanwhile, about 10 percent of students whose homes lacked internet access or their working parents didn’t have day care services returned to classrooms, Deputy Superintendent Ben Clinton said Monday.

For those students, the school year’s first classroom lesson: “How not to spread the virus,” he said.

“Every parent wants their children to learn remotely and wants to keep them at home, but for some students, they need to go to school because they don’t have internet access or they don’t have day care,” Clinton said.

Of about 200 students returning to classrooms, less than 50 were expected to arrive at each of the district’s four main campuses, he said.

“We’ve got kids spread out — everybody’s wearing a mask,” Clinton said, noting officials are following federal social distancing guidelines aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. “We’ve got very small class sizes. In most cases it’s about five kids to a class.”

Safety first

Officials are carefully following Centers for Disease and Prevention guidelines, Superintendent Stetson Roane told parents in a message.

“We are following Texas Education Agency and CDC guidelines for health and hygiene like daily screening for COVID-19 symptoms, required mask-wearing, cleaning and disinfecting throughout the day, physical distancing, frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer provided throughout our buildings,” he wrote.

This summer, the district also spent $626,000 to purchase needlepoint bipolar ionization technology to install in its air-conditioning and heating units to kill pathogens including the coronavirus.

“The only thing more important than student success is student safety,” Roane wrote. “That is why Raymondville ISD has invested in needlepoint bipolar ionizers, an air-purifying technology that eliminates bacteria, mold and viruses including COVID-19 from the air and surfaces.”

The district’s installed the technology across its 500,000 square-feet of classrooms, gymnasiums, cafeterias and offices, Clinton has said.

According to Business Insider magazine, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Children’s Hospital Boston and the University of Maryland Medical Center have implemented the technology, as well as airport terminals at LaGuardia, O’Hare, LAX, and San Francisco International.

Meanwhile, venues such as Tampa’s Amalie Arena along with JFK airport’s TWA Hotel are implementing the technology that’s being installed at such office complexes as Google headquarters in Chicago and San Jose, the magazine states.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com