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First day brings change, familiar feelings of excitement

The excitement of the first day of school or the start of a new school never changes, even though the start of the 2020-21 school year looked like no other. After an off-campus hiatus since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers were eager to connect with families arriving early to log-in and greet anxious students on the screen.

“It has been a different start to the school year, but it’s still exciting,” said Linda Bozeman, principal at Blanton Elementary School. “Our parents have been terrific too and completely understanding that even though we are in a remote environment, we are continuing to engage our students and love kids.”

Mrs. Bozeman joined her staff in welcoming small groups of students who lacked connectivity at home or who were identified by staff as needing extra assistance to begin remote instruction on campus. 

“Honestly, I was a little emotional this morning as I watched our big yellow buses roll out – just knowing that this is the first step of getting our students back in front of teachers was profound,” said Dr. Jamie Wilson, superintendent of schools. “We’ve missed them, and our teachers are so eager to make this a good experience for students and help our families.”

The district posted a registered enrollment of 30,150 students for the first day, which is a 955-student increase from the first day one year ago.

During the Tuesday, Aug. 25 Board of Trustees meeting, the district’s demographer shared that their predictions included an enrollment of 30,830 for the year.

According to the second-quarter report, Denton ISD currently ranks first in the North Texas area for student enrollment growth, eclipsing all other districts in the Metroplex. The Denton County population continues to grow and is currently the ninth-fastest growing county in the United States.

This year started in a remote, non-traditional model with elementary students interacting on SeeSaw and secondary students navigating Canvas. 

In anticipation of more than 30,000 students and more than 4,000 employees all learning via the district’s online network, the Technology Team doubled the district’s bandwidth in the days just before the start.

“It went amazingly well all things considered– only a few minor glitches,” said Robert Pierce, Information Systems Officer. “At peak times today, we were only using less than a third of our available bandwidth. As our families become more familiar with logging in and utilizing the software things will become smoother.”

To track the software and connectivity issues, the district added a live “barometer” at so users could track the status of individual platforms throughout the day.

As parents dropped off their remote learners at Pecan Creek Elementary, they were shouting messages of appreciation out of car windows, excited to have their students back on campus. 

“It’s going to be an incredible year of learning, and the best part is that everyone single one of us is learning a new thing, together because we’ve never done this before,” said Barbara Garrett, a physical education teacher.