GUIDE: Information to know about late April education-related closures, adjustments in the Bay Area

Schools, colleges and universities in the Bay Area are in their second calendar month of remote learning. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Schools, colleges and universities in the Bay Area are in their second calendar month of remote learning. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Schools, colleges and universities in the Bay Area are in their second calendar month of remote learning. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

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 go remote. Schools across the Bay Area are also making decisions about large-scale events such as commencement in light of social distancing measures.

This post will be updated through the end of April with new information. For education-related closures and adjustments from earlier in April, visit this page. For data related to coronavirus counts in the Bay Area, click here.

Clear Creek ISD

Board of Trustees approves addition of more than 30 full-time employees for 2020-21

At its April 27 regular meeting, the Clear Creek ISD board of trustees approved additional units for growth in the 2020-21 budget, gave updates about coronavirus-related matters and approved the use of more than $30 million in 2017 bond funds for district facility improvements.

At the meeting, the human resources department requested room be made in the budget for 36 full-time employees and one part-time employee. The board’s approval means another $2.26 million will be added to the CCISD budget for the 2020-21 academic year. The board also modified emergency pay regulations so that non-exempt district employees will receive their regular pay if asked to work during the pandemic. A resolution passed by the board in March gave non-exempt employees double pay if asked to work, but the resolution was amended to minimize budgetary impact.

Commencement ceremonies to be held at NRG Stadium in July

The district will host commencement ceremonies on July 25 and 26, according to an April 24 email blast. Clear View High School and Clear Horizons Early College High School ceremonies will be held at Clear Falls High School on July 25, and Clear Brook, Clear Creek, Clear Falls, Clear Lake and Clear Springs high schools will have their ceremonies the following day at the stadium.

Each high school will have a designated ceremony time, which has not yet been determined, per the email. All graduations will also be livestreamed.

Graduation ceremony information coming soon for seniors, fifth graders

Superintendent Greg Smith provided members and guests of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce with updates on the district’s activities amid the coronavirus pandemic at a webinar hosted by the chamber April 23.

Distance learning has presented many challenges for the district of over 40,000 students: During the webinar, Smith said there are 700 CCISD students the district is considering “missing in action.” Administrators and teachers are attempting to reach these students in as many ways as possible, he said.

The district is still hiring, he added, and typically brings in at least 300 new instructors each year. The virtual job fair hosted by the district from March 25 to April 4 resulted in nearly 1,100 submitted applications, he said.

Nicole Hicks, the former Westbrook Intermediate School assistant principal, began her job as the new principal of Seabrook Intermediate School during social distancing April 1, according to an April 23 news release from the district. Hicks is taking over for Sharon Lopez, who was named as the new principal of Clear Brook High School.

Smith also said during the webinar the district is working on a graduation alternative for its fifth graders, who traditionally attend a ceremony to close their time as elementary students.

Graduation information about commencement ceremonies and other senior activities is coming “really, really soon,” he said. Ceremonies are ordinarily conducted at the district’s outdoor stadium in May, but the new date will likely be in July.

Board of trustees discusses grading policy modifications at special meeting

Clear Creek ISD administrators addressed points of contention related to the district’s recently adopted spring 2020 pass-fail grading policy at a special meeting of the board of trustees April 20.

At the meeting, which was held via videoconference, district administrators provided several slides of materials meant to answer questions about the grading policy. The grading system was modified at an April 6 special meeting after CCISD and districts across the state switched to remote learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The policy takes the district through the end of May, meaning the pass-fail system or any other modifications are not expected to continue into next school year. No resolutions or other actions were taken to modify the pass-fail system at the April 20 meeting, which lasted approximately two hours. The next regular meeting is April 27.

While several parents wrote in to express support for the pass-fail system, twice as many pieces of public comment came from dissatisfied parents of students who felt disenfranchised by the policy change. For more coverage of the meeting, click here.

Students show support: orchestra performs; third grader creates pantry

Amid distance learning, CCISD students and faculty are coming together to spread positive messages, according to district news releases.

Orchestra directors from intermediate and high schools throughout Clear Creek ISD played a rendition of “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers dedicated to students and staff. The piece included violin, cello, piano and bass.

The video has garnered more than 1 million views, Smith said during a webinar with the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce on April 23.

“It is important to know in life that we need each other during the good, bad and difficult times,” said Greg Goodman, the district's director of visual and performing arts, in an April 15 press release. “Music makes better human beings and together we can celebrate the culture and pride of Clear Creek ISD.”

Alexandra Castillo, a third grader at Wedgewood Elementary, started her own Little Free Pantry, modeled after her neighbor’s Little Free Library. The Castillo family sought out community assistance in late March, asking if anyone could help with supplies to put the pantry together. About a week later, Brady Burnett with Burnett Realty built and donated a cabinet to the family, according to an April 16 news release.

Community members have dropped off food to keep the pantry fully stocked. Alexandra has also made more than 300 face masks, and she said she hopes her acts of kindness can inspire others her age.

“I want them to know that even though we're just children we can make a difference,” she said in the release. “That's why my motto is ‘never underestimate the power of a smile.’”

Bay Area colleges, universities

San Jacinto College sets revised commencement date

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, San Jacinto College moved the date of its spring commencement ceremony from May 15 to August 7. The ceremony in August will be held at 7 p.m. at NRG Stadium, according to a news release. The College will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in our region and will make any necessary changes to the ceremony as appropriate, per the release.

College of the Mainland to waive tuition, all fees for class of 2020 La Marque-area students

The Opening Doors Promise Scholarship will allow all 2020 high school seniors living in La Marque and attending GED, public, private, home or charter schools to continue their education at College of the Mainland with all tuition and fees covered, according to an April 20 news release.

The scholarship covers all tuition and fees. Any class of 2020 graduating senior at La Marque High School is also eligible for the scholarship, regardless of residence. GED students must be between the ages of 16 and 18. There is no income or high school grade-point average requirement to apply.

Interested students must apply to the college by May 15 and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid by June 1. Students will be required to enroll for a minimum of 12 credit hours, which is considered a full-time student, and must complete those credit hours to continue receiving their scholarships. Students must also maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 by the end of their first year to be eligible for free tuition and fees continuing into fall 2021 and graduation with a two-year degree or certification in spring 2022, per the release.

University of Houston—Clear Lake staff, faculty adjust to remote operations; Hawk Emergency Fund relaunched to assist students

More than 800 UHCL employees have been working from home since late March. Human Capital Advancement Manager Esther Herrera said in an April 17 news release she has been sharing online professional tools with employees, with “certificate plans” offering them a chance to master a specific new skill. As of mid-April, more than 1,000 courses and 28,000 video modules have been completed for a total of 1,241 professional development hours, Herrera said.

LinkedIn Learning is a popular professional development tool, and UHCL employees have access to the Employee Assistance Program and the Center for Faculty Development, Herrera said. The University Staff Association, comprising all UHCL staff, offers training workshops and events.

“We are in a new season of growth inside and outside the university, and UHCL is full of individuals who are eager to equip themselves with the professional skills needed to be a strong contributor to our mission and vision,” Herrera said in the release.

Responding to the needs of many of its students, the university relaunched its Hawk Emergency Fund to assist those facing unexpected financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds can provide financial assistance of up to $500 for eligible students, which includes undergraduate and graduate students in good academic standing, according to an April 21 news release.

The money can be used to cover lost wages and costs related to losses including rent, child care and utility bills; medical expenses; housing; technology, including internet and software costs; tuition assistance; and course materials.

Funds are administered through the Dean of Students Office. To date, more than 50 Hawks have benefited from the support, and more than 130 gifts have been received for the fund, per the release.

More than 130 gifts have been received for the effort. Donations to the Hawk Emergency Fund are tax deductible, per the release.

By Colleen Ferguson
A native central New Yorker, Colleen Ferguson worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. Colleen graduated from Syracuse University in 2019, where she worked for the campus's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange, with a degree in Newspaper and Online Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a degree in Spanish language and culture. Colleen previously interned with The Journal News/lohud, where she covered the commute in the greater New York City area.



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