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Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

Thursday marks first day of school for many Central Texas students

Empty chairs and talking to a computer screen – the first day of school looked very different this year for many Central Texas students.

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — Pflugerville, Leander and Lago Vista Independent School Districts started the school year off with virtual learning Thursday. 

"If you choose not to turn on your video, I would appreciate a picture," explained Pflugerville High School teacher Autumn Hendrickson as she spoke to her students virtually. 

From introductions to empty chairs, the first day of school at Pflugerville High School looked very different than last year. 

"With new resources that the district has provided, it really opened up a lot of opportunities to make it more rigorous and value-added for students, not just simply filling out a Google form," said Autumn Hendrickson.

Pflugerville High School Principal Ameka Hunt said online attendance looked good on the first day. 

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Another Central Texas school district opens for in-person learning: Llano ISD

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"Our kids are showing up and are participating in Zooms," said Ameka. "All of our teachers have created websites so that we still stay connected to our kids."

The educator of over 20 years teaches avid elective classes. While teachers and students are more prepared than they were in the spring, Hendrickson said there is a learning curve. 

"Some kids don't have the same connection access that others do," said Hendrickson. "So sometimes they might have to turn off their video feed in order for the audio feed to be more clear."

During the first class of the day, Hendrickson's freshmen students had a hard time navigating one of the applications, but Hendrickson maneuvered around it, which is something all schools are doing when it comes to online learning. 

RELATED: 

Thrall ISD students going back to class – in person

Leander ISD cancels first 2 days of virtual learning for high school students due to tech issue

Leander ISD's technical issues forced Leander district leaders to cancel the first two days of virtual learning for all high school students. 

While schools still have some kinks to work out, Hendrickson sees the positive side of online learning. 

"Kids are more comfortable, like, maybe if they weren't answering so many questions before they feel really comfortable putting their questions in a chat," said Hendrickson. 

If the Texas education agency guidelines are met Leander, Lago Vista and Pflugerville ISDs are expected to start in-person classes during the first two weeks in September.

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