Students Ready: BISD prepares pupils for upcoming school year

The first day of school is just around the corner, and Brownsville Independent School District’s efforts to shift the 43,000-student district to 100 percent distance learning come Aug. 25 is moving full speed ahead.

On Monday morning, staff gathered outside Faulk Middle School distributing computers and hotspots for those who don’t have internet or computer access at home. Faulk is the largest middle school in the district, with a total of 1,154 students this year, according to Principal Benita E. Villarreal.

Those working served a line of parents and students in vehicles stretching half a mile down the block. Over the course of the week, backpacks filled with books, pens, paper, notebooks, and other supplies will be distributed at schools across town.

Inside, chromebooks and laptops covered in plastic lined cafeteria tables. Parents were also provided with the school directory, the student code of conduct, an allergy checklist, and a food ticket bearing a barcode so school lunches can be distributed no-contact.

Villarreal said the school didn’t receive all of its supplies on time. Anything needed to get started on Aug. 25 was distributed at Monday’s event, but the day before classes start, parents, students, and teachers will meet for a drive-by “Swap Party”.

“It will be the opportunity for parents to drop off the completed forms that are necessary such as the emergency cards, student code of conduct, etc. We’re going to get a little present for them, and in return, the students are going to be getting their supplies,” Villarreal said.

According to previous reports, BISD spent $1 million on school supplies for the upcoming year — an amount that will eventually be reimbursed through the CARES Act. Some of the technology was also purchased with local assistance from the Texas Education Agency and Dallas-area Operation Connectivity.

In total, BISD obtained 11,000 Chromebooks, 6,000 iPads (for younger students), 6,500 laptops, and 10,000 hotspots to address the estimated 44 percent of Brownsville households without broadband internet.

Students will also be able to access the internet via school district buses-turned mobile hotspots and can connect to BISD’s Wi-Fi near campuses using a district email address.

Visit BISD’s website, BISD.us, or the district’s Facebook page for more information on supply pickup dates.

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com