Local school ready for learning outside of the classroom if coronavirus shuts down campus

BELLAIRE, Texas – If a coronavirus outbreak shuts down Episcopal High School in Bellaire, administrators and teachers say they have a plan in place to continue educating students from their homes.

The school has been training staff on new computer programs, like Microsoft Teams.

“So we have the ability to have actual live conversations with our students and host meetings in real-time, even share our screens with the students so they can see what we’re working on. I might end up taking some specimens home to do some dissections virtually,” said science teacher Erin Russe.

Students will log on to the school-issued laptops at 8 a.m. and attendance will be taken just like a regular in-school session.

"It's a little weird, can I stay in my pajamas?" joked Gwen Rippeto, a junior at Episcopal.

When the head of school Ned Smith first announced the virtual class contingency plan, students admit, they weren’t excited about the idea.

“There was a whole lot of groaning and moaning but now that we’ve been introduced and know more about it, it’s something that we’re looking forward to if we have to do it,” said senior Donovan Jackson.

Jay Berckley, dean of arts and innovation at Episcopal, said the coronavirus crisis forced quick action

“This wasn’t something that any of us were thinking about three months ago,” Berckley said.

He said he has been in contact with other independent schools and city and county school districts working together on best practices.