Clear Creek ISD makes strides toward pre-pandemic operations for 2021-22

Clear Creek ISD students will be able to freely collaborate and play during the 2021-22 school year, district leaders said. (Courtesy Pexels)
Clear Creek ISD students will be able to freely collaborate and play during the 2021-22 school year, district leaders said. (Courtesy Pexels)

Clear Creek ISD students will be able to freely collaborate and play during the 2021-22 school year, district leaders said. (Courtesy Pexels)

District leadership and the Safely Reopen CCISD committee said Clear Creek ISD will make as much of a return as possible to pre-pandemic operations for the 2021-22 school year, eliminating many of the previous school year’s restrictions and revising its COVID-19 protocols accordingly.

The committee met three times in late May and early June to develop instructional, operational and health procedures for staff and students headed into the new school year. The 15 staffers, 15 parents and five students on the committee were tasked with identifying the COVID-19 health data points that would necessitate executing additional safety measures, including any mandating of masks.

All recommendations were presented and discussed by district leaders at a June 14 board of trustees workshop. Key areas of committee focus included careful review of the COVID-19 Standard Response Protocols and contact tracing procedures; each of the presented recommendations was supported by all committee members, district leaders said at the workshop.

Superintendent Eric Williams said the committee’s efforts were essential in ensuring the district is well prepared for whatever the 2021-22 school year will bring.

“It was a big time commitment, including time spent outside of the committee meetings reviewing documents, and they definitely helped us become better prepared,” he said of the committee members and their work.

Here is what CCISD community members need to know about what working and learning will look like on campuses this fall.

School day

Per committee recommendations, all pre-pandemic activities at CCISD will resume with no restrictions, including classroom collaboration, recess and parent engagement on campus.

“The goal is really to restore a sense of community in our schools,” Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Karen Engle said at the meeting. “That collaboration, that celebration, that is really what it means to be in school.”

At meal times, students will continue to have a grab-and-go option, and water fountains and refillable water bottle stations will be available for use throughout the day.

Some school day-related recommendations came from lessons learned during COVID-19, including the extension of the school day. An extra 10 minutes was added to each day last year to allow for successful completion of health and safety protocols; five of those 10 minutes will remain during the day to address instructional needs. High schools will end at 2:35 p.m., elementary schools at 3:20 p.m. and intermediate schools at 4:05 p.m. Students and staff will be encouraged to remain home if showing any signs of illness.

District leaders learned some attendance-related incentives were likely counterproductive in terms of keeping students home when they are sick, Engle said. Therefore, the district will no longer give out perfect attendance awards and is waiving the attendance-related criteria for spring semester exam exemptions.


Community feedback overwhelmingly indicated a desire for the continuation of detailed cleaning protocols, so those will remain in place in 2021-22, district leaders said.

The funds to provide cleaning supplies will come out of the district’s current operations budget, and hand sanitizers will be made available in classrooms. High-touch areas will also continue to be cleaned throughout the day with all schools cleaned nightly. In the event of an active COVID-19 case, staff will pandemic clean per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Masking, quarantines

Per Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-36, school districts in Texas are prohibited from mandating mask wearing as of June 4. District leaders said that the authority to require protective equipment in an employment setting, including masks, “is not necessarily affected by GA-36.”

This means there could be reasons for requiring use of masks based on a student’s individual health plan, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Casey O’Pry said June 14. Face coverings will be made available upon request during the year, and Engle said summer school has gone well so far with the mask-optional policy.

There are currently less than 10 active cases across the district, and Engle said one was in an employee as of June 14; case counts will continue to be displayed on the district website.

Students and staff members who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be required to quarantine if exposed to a COVID-19-positive person as long as they remain asymptomatic. For those who do contract COVID-19, students will be excused from school with appropriate documentation, and employees may use accrued leave.

If someone in a student or staff’s family tests positive for COVID-19, the student or staff member is still required to report this through the proper district channels. However, if the student or staff member is fully vaccinated, they are only required to quarantine if they show symptoms of illness.

So far, 1,600-1,700 employees have voluntarily uploaded their vaccination cards, O’Pry said. Employees who have been identified by the local health department as a close contact may take accrued leave to quarantine, or they can follow the CDC Return to Work Guidelines.

These guidelines include: a pre-screening for symptoms prior to entering the workplace and a screening once at the workplace; use of cloth masks in accordance with federal, state and local regulations; regularly disinfecting shared equipment and common areas; and social distancing as work duties permit.

Contact tracing, COVID-19 response protocols

Public health officials will be responsible for contact tracing as well as for advising families about quarantine procedures, regardless of where the exposure occurs, district leaders said. School administrators will no longer be dictating quarantines, so it is up to public health officials to make those decisions, Williams said.

CCISD will communicate any known positive cases to local health authorities and, per committee recommendations, parents will still receive a general classroom letter if there is a positive case. Parents can then choose if they want to quarantine their child—unless local health authorities impose a quarantine.

“This is obviously a major step forward in how we’re going to operate next year,” trustee Scott Bowen said June 14.

Health mitigation protocols have replaced the COVID-19 Standard Response Protocols for 2021-22. A detailed description of the new five tiers is available here. The district activates its own contact tracing system in Stage 2, which would involve the resurgence of COVID-19, a variant or another infectious disease.

CCISD plans to start the 2021-22 school year at the fourth of its five stages, CCISD Coordinator of Health Services Marina Keeton said. Reaching Stage 5 would involve a federal entity declaring the COVID-19 pandemic is now an endemic, which has not yet happened. An infectious disease is said to be endemic in a population when there is a perpetually existing infection within a geographic location.

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.



As variants are isolated and identified, Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass believes the vaccines available can handle identified variants (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
'The vaccines we have are effective against all the variants out there': Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass discusses variants, vaccinations

As Houston Methodist identified its first case of the lambda variant July 19, Dr. Glass believes vaccines can handle known variants.

(Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)
Clear Creek ISD trustees to vote on district's 2021-22 compensation, benefits plan July 26

The proposed plan includes a 3% salary increase for all employees.

As variants are isolated and identified, Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass believes the vaccines available can handle identified variants. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Here is how Galveston County's COVID-19 positivity rates, infection patterns compare year over year

The county was in the middle of a second wave of coronavirus infections in July 2020. One year later, an outbreak has affected more than 150 county residents and marked the emergence of the delta variant.

ERCOT's instability has fueled interest in alternative sources of energy, with one solar nonprofit seeing interest increase across Texas in recent months. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Hot spots: Solar energy interest sparks in Clear Lake

Residents of 50 homes in Clear Lake and the surrounding area began forming a co-op in spring 2020 through Solar United Neighbors, a national nonprofit focused on supporting the growth of residential solar energy by informing consumers.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

port of houston
Port of Houston sets new diversity standards for business contracts

The port is joining a growing number of local and regional bodies interested in updating policies to increase participation from minority and women-owned businesses.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is pleading with residents to be more vigilant, asking all residents to start wearing masks again in indoor settings and asking those who are vaccinated to urge their friends who are not to get the shot. (Screenshot Courtesy Facebook)
Harris County raises coronavirus threat level as Hidalgo asks all residents to mask up indoors

Although those who are vaccinated are very unlikely to end up in the hospital, officials said wearing masks in certain situations could help reduce transmissions to the more susceptible unvaccinated.

(Community Impact staff)
Close-up: Learn more about League City's Coastal Point neighborhood

Located just south of the Mar Bella neighborhood, Coastal Point is a short drive to the coast and the Kemah Boardwalk.

(Community Impact staff)
DATA: Bay Area homes sold quicker, at higher prices in 2021 compared to prior year

Local real estate data shows an active market for June 2020-May 2021 compared to June 2019-May 2020.

Memorial Hermann has locations throughout the Greater Houston area, including Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center. (Courtesy Memorial Hermann)
Memorial Hermann visiting policies change as COVID-19 cases rise

As of July 21, Memorial Hermann has changed its visitor policy in light of a recent increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Greater Houston area.

Houston launches revamped 3-1-1 system

City staff have been in the process of updating the system over the last nine months.