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PAISD breaks down student rules for virtual etiquette, which include mask wearing recommendation

As many school districts in the region prepare to return to class, administrators and educators are beginning to stress the importance of virtual etiquette and online behavior.

Adams Elementary campus technology director Rebecca Martinez, left, shows teacher Rochelle Bridges, right, how to project the online class to a projector.

The Port Arthur Independent School District will be the first to put it to the test on Tuesday with the first day of online learning.

Staff Sgt. Lucian Adams Elementary Principal Erica Seastrunk is already setting an example.

“We definitely want students to have a mind frame of being in school,” she said. “We want them to shift, even though they are at home, we are trying to get a shift in their mindset that you need to be acting like you are at school because you are doing school right now.”

Seastrunk said it’s important to differentiate what’s appropriate at home and what’s appropriate at school.

“That’s how the real world is,” she said. “At home, you have home etiquette. At school, you have school etiquette, at work, you have your professional atmosphere.”

Superintendent Dr. Mark Porterie agreed.

Fourth grade teacher Tabitha Helmer wears a mask while online learning to practice safe measures even in an empty classroom.

“The Port Arthur Independent School District is asking students and parents to prepare for classes just as they would if they were returning face to face,” he said. “When preparing for virtual learning, students should remember that they are to be respectful. Although virtual learning may appear to be less formal than the classroom setting, expectations for student conduct remain the same. Our teachers deserve the same respect and etiquette.”

The district released two graphics on their social media page laying out suggestive virtual classroom behavior and decorum.

The first asked students to wear a mask: “We want all of our students, those that plan to learn in-person or virtual, to get used to wearing a mask. It’s the safe thing to do!”

All educators and administration at Adams Elementary wore their facemasks on campus Thursday, despite the empty classrooms.

Seastrunk said she wants her teachers to be a model for good behavior.

“It all goes back to the mindset,” she said. “Our biggest issue is focus, so if you feel like you are in school, your focus will be on school. Students almost have to do a mental block, because even though they are at home, school is where they are at that moment.”

PAISD’s second graphic addressed physical attire, banning items such as pajamas, hats, offensive clothing and backgrounds, revealing clothing and anything advertising drugs, tobacco or sex.

Adams Elementary teacher Rochelle Bridges practices navigating the online school platform.

Porterie said students need to be mindful of others.

“Although one of the best things about learning virtually from home is that you can work in comfortable clothing, please be mindful that you will be visible to everyone,” he said. “Dress as you would for an in-person meeting.”

Seastrunk added that it’s also important where students learn in the home.

“We are asking parents to set up a school area,” she said. “Maybe a desk or a table where they can have their paper, pencils and things they need for virtual learning. Set up an area that feels like school and resembles what school would be like if they were here physically.”

Porterie said he hopes everyone will give their full attention to virtual instruction as they would in face-to-face learning.

“The district is excited to be able to reconnect with students and their parents as we launch a new way of instructing students,” he said.