Most Cy-Fair ISD students opting for virtual instruction in 2020-21 according to early survey results

Cy-Fair ISD will offer in-person instruction in addition to a learning-from-home option in 2020-21. (Design by Katherine Borey/Community Impact Newspaper)
Cy-Fair ISD will offer in-person instruction in addition to a learning-from-home option in 2020-21. (Design by Katherine Borey/Community Impact Newspaper)

Cy-Fair ISD will offer in-person instruction in addition to a learning-from-home option in 2020-21. (Design by Katherine Borey/Community Impact Newspaper)

At least 43% of Cy-Fair ISD students are anticipated to choose the district’s virtual instruction program for the first grading period of 2020-21, according to initial survey results from parents reviewed at the Aug. 6 board of trustees meeting.

While an additional 34% of students indicated plans to attend in-person classes upon the start of school Sept. 8, another 23% of the district’s total enrollment have yet to complete the survey, CFISD Chief of Staff Teresa Hull said.

“Our campuses will now take those lists and identify the students and families that we’ve not made contact with, and they’ll begin that process of reaching out to them,” Hull said at the meeting. “It’s important to them to get that information—they want that. When we’ve exhausted all those efforts, then we will assume that those students will show up face to face.”

CFISD launched their reopening plan on July 27 and asked parents to submit their plans for their children’s learning method by Aug. 5. Parents have until Aug. 25 to complete the questionnaire or change their original selection, according to Hull.

Of the families who responded to the portion of the survey inquiring about technology needs, 10% of students requested internet hotspots and 50% requested devices.

The district initially planned to begin receiving thousands of Lenovo Chromebooks in August, but deliveries are now delayed due until September due to the U.S. government recently restricting certain Chinese companies from buying American technology and other products, CFISD Chief Technology Officer Paula Ross said.


“Our Lenovo representative delivered the news that our August order of 10,000 devices would be delayed, and our September order of 15,000 devices was at serious risk,” she said. “Lenovo shared that the timeline of four to six weeks was needed to relocate and bring manufacturing back online.”

Officials have about 27,300 Chromebooks on hand that have not been distributed and another 18,200 Windows devices they plan to convert to Chromebooks by the start of school while they wait for additional devices to arrive, Ross said. These will be distributed based on priority of need starting Aug. 10.

Ross said 43,800 Chromebook devices have been requested along with 8,449 internet hotspots. Ultimately the district still plans to receive enough Chromebook devices through the end of the fall semester to distribute to all CFISD students regardless of need and learning method.

Survey respondents requested curbside meals for 13,968 students opting to learn from home. Bill Powell, CFISD assistant superintendent of support services, said the district plans to distribute a full week of meals one day a week at the middle school of the parent’s choice.

Additional needs indicated in these preliminary survey responses included 24,928 students registering for transportation services, according to Powell.

“We realize circumstances change, and they are preparing for the reality of having even more students based on those respondents that we haven’t received,” he said.

District officials said they hope to receive more specific guidance from Harris County as they continue making decisions leading up to the 2020-21 school year.

“In the meantime, we’re also hoping that our local health authorities will provide more concrete, specific metrics to school districts,” Hull said. “That’s been a challenge. There has not been agreement among local health authorities across the state or across the nation.”
By Danica Lloyd

Editor, Cy-Fair

Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2016. As editor, she continues to cover local government, education, health care, real estate, development, business and transportation in Cy-Fair. Her experience prior to CI includes studying at the Washington Journalism Center and interning at a startup incubator in D.C., serving as editor-in-chief of Union University's student magazine and online newspaper, reporting for The Jackson Sun and freelancing for other publications in Arkansas and Tennessee.