Conroe ISD superintendent says recent surge in coronavirus threatens school reopening

Conroe ISD Superintendent Curtis Null said there are many unknowns when it comes to bringing students back to campuses in the fall. (Community Impact staff)
Conroe ISD Superintendent Curtis Null said there are many unknowns when it comes to bringing students back to campuses in the fall. (Community Impact staff)

Conroe ISD Superintendent Curtis Null said there are many unknowns when it comes to bringing students back to campuses in the fall. (Community Impact staff)

Conroe ISD Superintendent Curtis Null said the recent surge in positive coronavirus cases makes him “worried” about school in the fall.

During a YouTube livestream June 29, Null said the district has seen positive tests at its schools, food distribution sites, strength and conditioning high school programs and in the administration building, even with only 10% of staff and students on campus.

James Campbell, Montgomery County Hospital District chief of EMS, and MCHD Medical Director Robert Dickson joined Null and urged viewers to wear masks, practice social distancing and sanitize their hands. Null said complying with these health initiatives is vital in the effort to bring students back to campuses.

“Without us taking this advice and changing this curve that we are currently seeing, we are not going to have an opportunity to have next school year,” Null said.

Null said this recent surge has contributed to the unknowns surrounding schools reopening—CISD had expected to receive more concrete guidance from the Texas Education Agency, but TEA held off on releasing guidelines after Gov. Greg Abbott said it was unclear if in-person instruction could happen at all.

“If we don’t tackle this now, if we don’t get this under control now, we’re not going to have that opportunity,” Null said.

With the few guidelines the district has so far, Null told Community Impact Newspaper the district is planning on offering in-person and online options for students in the fall if allowed, with some in-person activities, such as science labs or athletic programs for online students. However, Null said students will have to be prepared to switch to online learning “at a moment’s notice.”

Online instruction will be much more rigorous than distance education in the spring, according to Null. He said in the spring, materials were condensed, but in the fall, online education will mirror in-person instruction, and students will be graded the same way.

“They will be equal parallel systems, from face-to-face to online,” Null said.

Online education requires at least four hours a day for secondary students and three hours for elementary students. The district will also be taking attendance, and students must be present and working every day, even in online instruction.

Null said he hopes to have further guidance from the state by July 10 and said the district would share information as soon as possible.
By Andy Li
Originally from Boone, North Carolina, Andy Li is a graduate of East Carolina University with degrees in Communication with a concentration in Journalism and Political Science. While in school, he worked as a performing arts reporter, news, arts and copy editor and a columnist at the campus newspaper, The East Carolinian. He also had the privilege to work with NPR’s Next Generation Radio, a project for student journalists exploring radio news. Moving to Houston in May 2019, he now works as the reporter for the Conroe/Montgomery edition of Community Impact Newspaper.


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