Clear Creek ISD administrators, community members refine reopening plans for 2020-21 school year

Clear Creek ISD's Board of Trustees is working with a committee to figure out plans for next school year. (Community Impact staff)
Clear Creek ISD's Board of Trustees is working with a committee to figure out plans for next school year. (Community Impact staff)

Clear Creek ISD's Board of Trustees is working with a committee to figure out plans for next school year. (Community Impact staff)

Clear Creek ISD is preparing to open its schools in the fall with coronavirus-related restrictions, the details of which are being worked out by the board of trustees and the Safely Reopen CCISD Committee.

After incorporating feedback from a public input meeting June 16, the committee presented final recommendations to the board during its June 22 regular meeting. Medical professionals, county and local authorities, faith leaders, parents, district staff and CCISD students comprise the committee. Recommendations were first presented at a June 8 workshop.

Overall, the recommendations include refining the school calendar to account for a potential COVID-19 resurgence; developing academic, social and emotional learning expectations; and mitigating the digital divide across CCISD.

“We all need to be responsible citizens and teach our children how to be responsible as well,” Superintendent Greg Smith said June 22.

Draft guidelines released by the Texas Education Agency on June 23 fell in line with Gov. Greg Abbott’s previous comments, mandating school districts offer some form of on-campus instruction during the 2020-21 school year. A majority of the CCISD parents that spoke at the June 16 meeting said returning to fully in-person instruction was the best course of action.

Remote learning can still be an option for school districts, parents and teachers, it just cannot be the only option, per the TEA. Students will be able to record their attendance through either on-campus or virtual instruction, and parents will be allowed to request that their child be offered virtual instruction.

Parents push for in-person instruction

Two of the final charges presented to the board detailed the various procedures that would be necessary for a safe reopening in August. These include conducting basic health screenings for students and staff; enforcing hand-washing protocols; providing mental health supports for students and staff as well as trauma-sensitive professional learning for staff; developing protocols for high-risk employees and students; and creating guidelines for the safe operation of athletics programs, student organizations and other extracurricular activities.

Several parents with students who have disabilities spoke June 16 about how important in-person instruction is for their children, but they also said enforcing the use of personal protective equipment such as masks in special education classrooms will be virtually impossible.

Student committee members emphasized how important the connections and relationships are that they form with teachers over the course of their education; many parents who participated in the public input meeting said their children felt they had lost the ability to make those connections amid the pandemic-enforced distance learning.

“We heard that reverberated over and over ... [that children] lost interest in school because they lost that connection with the teacher,” committee co-Chair Catharine Pierce said June 22.

Smith said the district would revise its distance learning experience based on feedback from the end of the 2019-20 school year. Offerings for distance learning will be available to any school-age student living within the district, including students who previously were attending private or parochial schools, he said.

Public input spurs revised recommendation

After listening to parent input, the committee also added a recommendation that the district extend the school day by approximately 10 minutes. The extra time would be used to implement safety protocols and allow teachers to maximize time for instruction. Smith said June 22 that adding the 10 extra minutes would give the district necessary flexibility without affecting transportation schedules, but no formal action was taken to do so.

The board approved an additional 9.5 full-time employees, which will cost the district about $560,000, at the June 22 meeting. The district may need additional staff to ensure a robust distance learning experience, Smith said.

No official changes have been announced for the upcoming school year as of June 24. The full text of the final recommendations is available online. The board and CCISD community will receive weekly updates on the progress made toward planning the 2020-21 school year, officials said at the meeting.

“We certainly learned lessons from the last couple of months ... and now it’s acting on those lessons,” board President Laura DuPont said June 22. “The district is doing its best and wants to be as responsive as it can. ... Our hope is that we can move forward with a flexible middle ground.”

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.



Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Number of daily new COVID-19 cases in Galveston County up nearly 300% since late October

A total of 14,465 county residents have tested positive for the coronavirus since mid-March; of the total cases, 89% are considered to have recovered.A total of 14,465 county residents have tested positive for the coronavirus since mid-March; of the total cases, 89% are considered to have recovered.

Dozens of clinics throughout the county offer COVID-19 testing services. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
COVID-19 testing locations remain open in Montgomery County and more local news

Read the latest Houston-area business and community news.

Heading into Thanksgiving, Texas Medical Center continues to report uptick in hospitalizations

The total number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Texas Medical Center facilities has increased by more than 50% over two weeks.

The Harris County Justice Administration Department is working to release final reports and launch pilot programs in early 2021. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Harris County Justice Administration Department makes headway on countywide criminal justice studies

The department is working to release the final versions of several studies and launch pilot programs with local law enforcement groups in early 2021.

Adelaide's sells items from local brands whenever possible, such as kits from The Heights-based My Drink Bomb. (Colleen Ferguson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Adelaide's Boutique stores strive to be ‘first-stop’ shops for gifts

The Adelaide’s Boutique locations—14870 Space Center Blvd., Houston, and 6011 W. Main St., League City—are meant to serve as customers’ destinations for clothes, shoes, accessories, gifts and other boutique items, many of which are locally sourced.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

The vaccine could start being distributed "as early as next month," according to a Nov. 23 news release.

"Remember, we don't want to invite COVID-19 to the dinner table," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a Nov. 23 press conference urging caution amid rising COVID-19 positivity rates. (Screenshot via ABC13)
Mayor Sylvester Turner urges caution heading into Thanksgiving holiday

Houston officials also said 333 health providers had been identified as future vaccine delivery sites.

With remote learning opportunities becoming increasingly prevalent, CCISD is reviewing its flexible learning options—such as Cyber Cafe and the Clear Connections program—and examining current TEA guidelines to determine if changes are needed to any of these programs and policies. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)
Clear Creek ISD updates: District adding new 2021-22 secondary courses, improving educational experiences

Five new secondary courses will be offered next school year; some courses will replace those previously offered, and some will be new courses altogether.

New guidance from the Texas Education Agency allows districts to require virtual learners who are failing classes or who have three or more unexcused absences to return to school in person. (Courtesy Canva)
Clear Creek ISD imposes grades-based restrictions on virtual learning

Although the Texas Education Agency allows schools to use attendance as a reason for mandating in-person learning with some students, CCISD officials chose to only focus on those who are academically struggling.

protestor in crowd with who police the police sign
New report: Houston police oversight board lagging behind major Texas cities

The report suggested having no oversight board has a better effect on public trust than having a dysfunctional board.

Laura Colangelo
Q&A: Laura Colangelo discusses challenges facing private schools during pandemic

Colangelo said private schools have adapted to remote learning and other obstacles in 2020 despite less revenue and a 9% decline in enrollment statewide.