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  On The Cover:
By Alissa Reinhard
T his certainly hasn’t been your typical summer. Far from it, in fact. Of course, we are all yearning for a return to some sense of normalcy, but it looks like our new “normal” will be here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy the last days of summer. There are still things you can do, with the family, while
staying safe and healthy!
Visit your local parks and trails. Have a
Last Days Of Summer
  picnic! Go camping, even if it’s in your own backyard. Go on a long bike ride. Roast marshmallows! Turn the sprinkler on and run through it. Have a water balloon fight. Eat all the ice cream, snow cones and fresh watermelon. Make a reservation at a local state park. Pop some popcorn and watch a movie with the whole family. Check out some books at your local library via curbside and read them, under the covers, with flashlights.
We do not know what the future holds, so we need to be grateful for what’s in front of us right now. A new school year is just around the corner, and while we still aren’t sure how exactly that will look, it’s sure to bring new challenges and stressors. But... all that can wait until tomorrow. Enjoy today! Don’t let the dog days of summer slip away.
 Back To School Under The Coronavirus: How Much Risk Is Too Much?
 OBy Emily Drisch
n July 17th, the Bexar County Health Authority announced that area schools (K-12) will no longer
be able to hold in-person schooling until after September 7th. This is after a long and muddled struggle to implement a school plan that works for students, parents, and teachers. Whether that’s been achieved, however, begs to be examined. Some parents feel they are sending in their kids to a dangerous environment. “I feel like TEA and school districts let the students and faculty down by lack of planning for a safer learning environment” Brandi, mother of 3 young boys, says. “The number of cases are considerably higher now than when we were under lockdown in March-May.
So how was it unsafe to have schools open then but safe to go back in 4 weeks?”
These questions seem to echo among parents. Most parents are hesitant to allow their kids back to school under these conditions. Teachers, too, are afraid for their students and themselves. Sebastian, a teacher at a lower socio-economic school district, says that most of the parents he talks to are concerned. He realizes the decision is not an easy one among parents, and most
of those who choose to keep their kids at home are financially privileged. Another parent reiterates this sentiment, saying “it’s hard to keep my kids home when you need money to live! You can’t just up and quit your job, but you don’t want your kids sick.”
School districts have tried to accommodate the challenging nature of the pandemic we are in--now, with the mandated order to resume schooling after September 7th, some school districts are fighting with the new problems that resolution brings in. Comal ISD in particular is not happy with the mandates, citing that only five out of their 33 schools will be affected. What will happen to the other 28 schools that will resume in-person learning on August 25th? Some community members see the answer in an extension in unemployment benefits to allow the opportunity for parents to actually teach their kids at home. As a social worker and also a parent, Pam Frias also asks for more funding for childcare outside of the classroom. “Some parents rely on school as a form of childcare because parents can’t afford daycare. As a parent, I feel conflicted- -I don’t want my kid back in school, but as
a social worker, I understand that school is how some kids eat.”
For parents in the Stone Oak and surrounding areas, though, an unlikely solution is evolving--hiring teachers for one on one interaction with their kids. It seems that parents are coming together through social media to call upon tutors and retired teachers to help get their child’s education
quarantine and staying active in their activities really helps each of them.”
Chandler, who is now in her 18th year of teaching and 17th year with NEISD, could not be prouder of the effort put forth by her students.
“They really excelled with this project,” she said. “We loved looking at each other’s portraits during our weekly Zoom meeting and sharing why we chose certain items. It was a great class discussion and I think each student liked sharing a little bit about their quarantine life since we aren’t able to be together in the classroom.”
Although both Chandler was disappointed at how the end of the school year turned out, she was amazed by her students’ perseverance.
“I am so proud of all of their efforts during this time and I know they are going
on track. Without this extra help, however, most parents will end up either sending their child back into an uncertain school environment or face the consequences of teaching at home, exacerbating the disparities between poorer and more well- funded school districts. Only time will tell how the communities fare.
   Portraits Of Distance Learning
  IBy Alissa Reinhard
nspired by photographer Gregg
Segal’s “Daily Bread” photography
series, Amy Chandler, a Gifted and Talented teacher at Encino Park Elementary, decided that a similar project would be a great assignment for her students.
“Segal’s series shows what kids around the world eat over the course of one week in pictures,” Chandler explained. “I felt like this idea would be perfect for my fifth-grade students as we are in such a unique time in history.”
Chandler shared Segal’s work with her students through a Google Slideshow and asked them to create their own portrait, focusing on items that have been important to them during the pandemic and virtual learning. Students were told to collect 10- 15 items and lay them out on the floor for a “photo shoot” in the style of Segal’s work.
They had several days to complete the activity and submit it online.
“I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to get, but they blew me away with their results,” Chandler said. “Their photos are such a great representation of their life during the pandemic and virtual learning. It is insightful to see what is important to them during this time.”
Some common items pictured were video games, computers and board games. Also included, representations of the students’ favorite sports. While most sports have been cancelled due to COVID-19, students were still continuing classes through weekly Zoom meetings.
“By including them in the picture, it just shows how important those activities are to my students,” Chandler said. “So many of them want some ‘normalcy’ during the
Encino Park Elementary fifth grader Kate, surrounded by items that have been important to her during quarantine.
to be successful as they head on to middle school next year,” Chandler said.
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