SAN ANGELO, Texas — To return to the classroom or not? That's the question students, teachers, parents and lawmakers have been contemplating for months.
School districts in west Texas have largely left the answer to that question up to their students, by allowing them to choose whether they will return to in-person instruction in the fall or stay at home for virtual learning.
"I didn't know what to expect, honestly. I didn't know how many would choose to come back. I was thinking maybe it would be half and half?" said Angie Smetana, the superintendent of Grape Creek Independent School District.
Turns out, more students are returning to schools in Grape Creek than Smetana believed would. As of August 11, she says 72.8% of students have opted to return to the classroom for in-person instruction.
Here's what other school districts in the Concho Valley and the Big Country know so far, as of August 11:
According to the director of communications, Lance Fleming, Abilene ISD has had almost 12,000 people participate in a survey. Of that survey:
- 73.3% have chosen in-person instruction
- 26.7%have chosen remote learning
- 4,500 students have still not completed the survey
Brownwood ISD released a report saying 82.6% of its students have decided to return to in-person instruction.
As for the largest school district in the Concho Valley, San Angelo Independent School District has had 35% of their students opt for virtual learning so far, leaving 65% headed to class in-person.
Bronte ISD started the school year on August 10. According to superintendent Tim Siler, 98% of the district's students from pre-school through sixth grade have chosen to return to the classroom in-person, and 96% of seventh through twelfth-grade students have also opted for in-person instruction.
Districts like Irion County are expecting 94% of their students to return to school in-person.
Olfen ISD tops that percentage with 98.7% of its students choosing in-person as well.
Schleicher County ISD is expecting 88% of its students to be in the building this fall, whereas Sonora ISD has only 78% opting for in-person.
Finally, Wall ISD is preparing for 90% of its students to return to in-person instruction.