School bells are ringing once again in the Midlothian Independent School District. These bells, however, are coming from students’ laptops and other devices as they learn at home.

On Monday, MISD began teaching students at home through online technology. A modified school schedule allows teachers in all grades to provide instruction and counseling remotely.

MISD and other school districts across the state of Texas are closed because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Extracurricular activities have been halted since March 13 statewide, and MISD — which had already been out of school for spring break since March 6 — extended the break by another week.

But throughout the closure, district administrators and staff were working hard on a plan to teach students at home, and these preparations were put into motion Monday morning.

“Throughout the week as we have held online teacher meetings to shift from a physical learning environment to a distance learning environment at home, I have been amazed at the ingenuity, creative and innovative work of our teachers,” MISD superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter wrote in a message to district families. “As someone said it best, ‘Our teachers have Apollo 13’d education in HOURS. Literally, HOURS.’

“MISD has been well-positioned as each student is provided a district-issued device. This has allowed us to shift quickly and provide ongoing educational opportunities during this time. If you see a teacher or have an opportunity to email a teacher, I encourage you to take a moment and thank them. There is no doubt that we have the best and brightest teachers in the state and nation.”

As of now, at-home learning will continue until Friday, April 3, but the district will continue to monitor and assess the situation to determine whether campus buildings can be reopened.

By all accounts, the first day of at-home learning went about as smoothly as can be expected.

“The highlight of my day has been getting to see and talk to those sweet faces in the right hand corner!” said Stacy Hull, a fifth grade math and science teacher at Longbranch Elementary. “I’ve been able to virtually see all of the hard work they are doing at home, and it’s truly amazing.”

MISD is still providing breakfast and lunch to all MISD students with grab-and-go meals at J.A. Vitovsky Elementary from 9-11 a.m. each weekday. However, the district has expanded its meal service to the Jenkins Daycare parking lot, and bus deliveries to the Village South, Buffalo Hills, Pecan Acres/Country East, Cement Valley, Baxter and Longbranch neighborhoods.

“Again, on behalf of all MISD, thank you,” Ledbetter wrote. “Thank you for your patience and understanding. We have amazing teachers, staff, students, parents and community. We are stronger together and we will become even more ‘Midlothian Strong’ in the coming days and weeks.”