DONNA — Buses from Donna ISD rolled off campus Wednesday morning in an effort to get the last of the district’s students ready and registered for the first day of class on Sept. 8.
The “distance” part of distance education can be a problem for things as simple as registering for school, Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez said, a problem the Registration on Wheels program is meant to help remedy.
District staff at one of the sites reported that participation was low when the program started Tuesday, but had gotten busier Wednesday. The program will end after running again Thursday.
“This is another layer of help to make things more convenient for our parents,” Azaiez said, noting that the pandemic has particularly impacted lower-income residents.
“We understand that some of our parents, believe it or not, they don’t have the means — they don’t have a ride or car to go and register,” he said. “They have to wait for a neighbor or family member to take them, and that may take them days before they’re free to do it.”
Although Donna ISD offers online registration, Azaiez said registering online isn’t an option for all families either.
“Do they have access to a computer at home? Do they have access to internet at home? So we want to go out as close as possible to our parents and make it as convenient as possible,” he said.
Azaiez says the program has been well-received by the community.
“It shows them that we care, that we understand that they might be going through some challenges and tough situations,” he said.
Donna ISD is planning on using its fleet of buses in a similar manner to help students and their families once the school year is underway as well.
Azaiez says a dozen sites have been selected as meal distribution locations, augmented by other sites that will distribute food via school buses.
The move is intended to save students time during the school day.
“We’re going to use our buses and the bus drivers will take the food as close as possible to our students too,” Azaiez said. “We don’t want them to waste an hour or an hour and a half to grab their food and come back. We want them to waste very little time if they have to pick up their food so they can continue their learning that afternoon.”
Ultimately, Donna ISD will be relying on the internet to instruct its students for at least the beginning of the school year.
According to Azaiez, the district has all but a few hundred iPads and Chromebooks needed to give every student a device for the year.
“We’re hoping to get them so we can distribute them within the next few days,” he said.
Azaiez says contracts have been completed for towers meant to bring WiFi to district students. He says permitting and site selection is underway and construction should be complete by late October or early November.