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North Texas teachers talk about their challenges on first day of virtual school

Monday marked the first day of school for several North Texas school districts, including Arlington ISD and Mesquite ISD.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Monday marked the first day of virtual school for several North Texas school districts, including Arlington, Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Coppell, Grand Prairie, Mesquite and more.

More than 50,000 Arlington ISD students met their teachers online for classes.

Antonio Young teaches language arts to sixth graders at Ellis Elementary in Arlington.

Young said some Arlington ISD students hadn’t completed registration by Monday, so those students did not have permission to access the virtual classrooms. 

While Young was teaching, he was also granting access to his online lessons to newly-registered kids.

“They’re trying to get in (to the virtual classroom) while we’re communicating with students and trying to present today’s mini lesson,” Young said. “So it got a little overwhelming, but I pulled it together and it was just kind of multitasking. And the kids were so great and patient.”

Young taught from his desk while looking at his computer screen in his empty Ellis Elementary classroom.

“It’s kind of hard to monitor every student’s actions when they’re first coming in because you’re also dragging things on a computer screen that would normally be up on my board, and I could just point and monitor and watch the class at the same time,” Young said.

But as Monday went on, Young and his students found their rhythm.

“Everything was just starting to fall into place to where I could just start teaching and not worrying about anybody else coming in (to the virtual classroom).”

Mesquite ISD welcomed about 38,000 students back for the first day of virtual school Monday. And there were some technological issues there, too.

“Maybe their mic doesn’t work very well, and so you can’t hear them very well,” Poteet High School teacher Ty Belt said. “Or maybe there’s noise going on in the background and so you can’t hear very well.”

Belt teaches social studies and U.S. history to sophomores. This is his sixth year teaching at the Mesquite high school.

“There’s so much online that you can use, so it can be overwhelming sometimes,” Belt said.

But despite all the challenges, North Texas teachers agreed that school – even virtual school – creates a schedule that’s familiar to students and staff.

“Even though we’re online, they were super excited to get back in school and have a routine and see teachers and meet new people,” Belt said.

“(I’m) just constantly reminding them: We’re going to have an amazing year though. It’s going to be fun. We’re going to get through this,” Young said.

MORE: Full coverage of schools in North Texas