GUIDE: Here is information to know about April education-related closures, adjustments in the Bay Area

Numerous school districts, colleges and universities are adjusting operations as they switch to remote instruction amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Pexels)
Numerous school districts, colleges and universities are adjusting operations as they switch to remote instruction amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Pexels)

Numerous school districts, colleges and universities are adjusting operations as they switch to remote instruction amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Pexels)

Clear Creek ISD is adjusting to distance learning as facilities close due to coronavirus concerns. Bay Area colleges also face many of the same challenges as campuses switch to remote instruction and make decisions about large-scale events like commencement.

This post will be updated continually with new information. For education-related closures and adjustments from March and early April, visit this page. For coronavirus updates in the Bay Area, including information about case counts, click here.

Clear Creek ISD

Sibling duo makes face masks, ear relief straps for community members

Two Clear Creek ISD siblings are among the Bay Area residents helping provide essential workers with protective face masks, all while engaging in distance learning, according to a news release from the district.

Clear Springs High School sophomore Michelle and Creekside Intermediate School eighth-grader Nicholas Davis have made more than 40 masks and 100 ear-relief straps on top of their schoolwork. The masks are being given to first responders and hospital workers for free, or they are available to purchase for $5 each, per the release.

Nicholas, who is interested in robotics and 3D printing, researched designs for mask ear-relief straps, which he prints himself. Printing the flexible straps, which are roughly 7 inches long and are meant to relieve tension on the ear, takes about 3 1/2 hours for 10 units. Michelle irons, pins and sews together the masks, each of which take 10 to 15 minutes.

Food program continues serving students

The district has provided more than 40,000 meals to students between breakfast and lunch pickups, according to an April 13 Facebook post.

Through its drive-thru meal program, operated by campus staff, CCISD has served more than 21,500 breakfasts and more than 25,000 lunches in the last four weeks, per the post.

The program began offering free lunch and breakfast pick-up for multiple days at a time as of March 30. Monday’s pickup will include lunch and breakfast through Thursday morning, and Thursday’s pickup will include lunch and breakfast through Saturday breakfast.

Administrators discuss switch to pass-fail grading system during livestream

During an April 8 livestream event, Clear Creek ISD leaders answered questions from parents and provided more details on the grading policy changes. The revisions are student-centered and learning-focused, officials said during the livestream.

Laura Engle, assistant superintendent of secondary education, said the decision to move to a pass-fail system was based on what would be the most equitable, given the inevitable difference in access to resources that comes with distance learning.

“We needed to have a system that would meet everybody’s needs,” she said.

The CCISD board of trustees approved a resolution reflecting these grading policy changes during an April 6 special meeting. The resolution reads in part, “during this unprecedented public health crisis certain temporary modifications to the district’s instructional grading and reporting requirements will alleviate academic pressure on students and facilitate the most equitable transition for all students to distance learning.”

The board’s resolution included language intended to base grade-level advancement, promotion and course credit on curriculum proficiency rather than mastery. This entails restructuring secondary education: part of the resolution called on educators to determine proficiency based on daily grades and only daily grades, with a minimum of one daily grade recorded per student per week.

Bay Area colleges, universities

San Jacinto College joins ‘H-Force’ to address area protective gear shortages

San Jacinto College, Houston Community College, University of Houston at Sugar Land, Fort Bend County Judge’s Office, TX/RX Labs, Alief ISD and Houston ISD have joined efforts to help address personal protective equipment shortages for local medical professionals and first responders in the fight against the coronavirus, according to an April 13 news release.

The effort, known as H-Force, will be “a comprehensive community partnership platform bringing together members’ resources, technologies, and expertise to address the Houston area’s growing needs amidst this global crisis,” per the release. H-Force members are already supporting several Houston-area initiatives, including a project initiated by TX/RX Labs to produce face shields via 3D printing for health care workers at Memorial Hermann Health System, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Baylor College of Medicine.

In addition to this collaboration, San Jacinto College is printing an additional 500 face shield brackets for CHI St. Luke’s Health–Patients Medical Center in Pasadena and its affiliate in Sugar Land, per the release.

Community members who are able to help with 3D printing are encouraged to do so, and H-Force is also in need of filament and 3D printing material supplies for those able to donate. The collaborative is establishing drop-off locations throughout Houston to ensure community members have easy access to places receiving donations, while also maintaining the social distancing requirements in place throughout the Houston area, per the release.

University of Houston—Clear Lake takes Art School for Children and Young Adults online

David Moya, UHCL’s director of the Art School for Children and Young Adults, is transitioning art classes to an online format for at least the month of April, according to an April 10 news release.

“Like everyone else, we have had to cancel our programs, and since we don’t know if the quarantine will go past April, we created a virtual presence and have started live streaming classes on Fridays to make sure people’s interest in the arts keeps going,” Moya said in the release.

The program conducted a pilot livestream on its Facebook page earlier in the month, inviting current students to try the new format and work out the logistics. Moya said in the release that the pilot had a “great response.”

April 10’s lesson was about frottage, the process of taking a rubbing from an uneven surface to form a new piece of art. There will be a free live streamed art class on Facebook every Friday for the month of April. Moya said in the release that the program will offer a pilot class via videoconferencing software in May and a full virtual program with tuition in June.

“In creating these lessons, I have tried to keep in mind using materials that people would have on hand and just be creative with them,” Moya said in the release. “Technology is the tool to solve problems, and everyone is having to do the same thing we’re doing. We have to ask ourselves how to leverage our tech tools to create a learning opportunity. For me this is fun, and this is what it’s all for.”

By Colleen Ferguson

Reporter, Bay Area

A native central New Yorker, Colleen worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact Newspaper before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. She covers public education, higher education, business and development news in southeast Houston. Colleen graduated in 2019 from Syracuse University and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she worked for the university's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange. Her degrees are in journalism and Spanish language and culture. When not chasing a story, Colleen can be found petting cats and dogs, listening to podcasts, swimming or watching true crime documentaries.