Houston ISD reopening: 10 things to know about the 2020-21 plan

Houston ISD interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan announced the district's 2020-21 reopening plans July 15. (Screenshot via HISD)
Houston ISD interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan announced the district's 2020-21 reopening plans July 15. (Screenshot via HISD)

Houston ISD interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan announced the district's 2020-21 reopening plans July 15. (Screenshot via HISD)

Houston ISD unveiled its approach to the 2020-21 school year on July 15, with a later start date, virtual learning for the first six weeks and offering flexibility to parents to opt into virtual learning for up to the entire year.

"It’s going to take a lot of flexibility ... but we’re going to do right by our children and right by our staff," interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan told reporters July 15.

Here are 10 things to know about the new reopening plan:

1. The first day of school will be Sept. 8. Classes will be held virtually through at least Oct. 16, when campuses will reopen if local health conditions allow. During those six weeks, virtual learning will be self-paced, with students required to complete daily activities. "Attendance and participation is a must, and grades will count," Lathan said.

2. All parents will be asked to take a course on virtual learning. Information on the course will be distributed in advance. The course will become available July 31 and must be completed by Aug. 28.

3. Parents must opt into longer term in-person or online learning on Aug. 24. The district will reach out to parents to allow them to make the selection, but campuses will also follow up to confirm choices. Parents are asked to commit to their decision for at least six weeks once confirmed, with changes allowed only between six-week grading periods. Parents will be able to opt into virtual learning for the fall or the entire school year.

4. Teachers will report to work virtually Aug. 24. Teaching assignments may change based on the opt-in numbers by parents for in-person or virtual learning.

5. The district is committing to provide devices to all students who need them. Parents are asked to contact their school principals if they need help obtaining a laptop or internet hot spot. According to the district's parent survey, 52% of households need devices for learning.

6. When campuses reopen, extra precautions will be in place. All students and employees will be screened daily upon entry, masks will be required, frequent hand-washing will be encouraged and physical distancing will be enforced. Some staff members will also be required to wear gloves. All masks, gloves and cleaning materials will be provided. The district is preparing 18 campuses to serve as models for implementing new protocols for classrooms and operations.

7. Alternative schedules may be implemented to allow for in-person classes. The district has developed plans to meet capacity requirements for classrooms and school buildings.

8. Extracurricular activities will be suspended until in-person classes can resume. In-person after-school activities, including athletics, will not be allowed until regular instruction resumes. Similarly, field trips will not be allowed until locations are deemed safe.

9. The school year will end a little later. By starting 10 days later, the last day of school has been pushed back to June 11.

10. The district will attempt to reach every student who did not engage in the spring. Starting Aug. 3, staff will begin reaching out and conducting home visits to make contact with students who did not access online learning options or make contact in the spring during the first round of closures.

The district will share more information at www.houostonisd.org/reopening.

By Matt Dulin
Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018 and is the City Editor for Houston's Inner Loop editions.


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