School districts across the Greater Houston area are working through dozens of logistical questions about how to operate a learning environment during the coronavirus pandemic.

They are charged with finding out how to host graduations, proms and sports tryouts as well as how to ensure technology access, organize summer school, determine a grading structure and return personal items to students.

“Communication is key,” KISD Superintendent Ken Gregorski said April 29 at the second Fort Bend County public education virtual town hall meeting. “Parents and students [need to be] communicating with those teachers and principals to make sure what we are providing is working for the folks, and [we need] just a little bit of patience and understanding as we navigate this together.”

The emotional health of students, teachers and their families also remains a top priority, said Gregorski, along with Fort Bend ISD, Lamar CISD, Stafford MSD and Needville ISD superintendents, at the meeting.

“The greatest obstacle in all of this is maintaining the well-being—the socioemotional, the mental health—with everyone involved,” FBISD Superintendent Charles Dupre said. “The economic situation related to the energy industry and now the way the pandemic is affecting in our economy has increased stress levels in the homes throughout our community—certainly in our student homes, but also in the homes of our staff.”

Dupre added the district is receiving emotional calls from parents who say they cannot get their children out of bed to do any schoolwork.

Virtual school work is mandatory, the superintendents stressed. They encouraged frustrated parents to communicate with their students' teachers and the district to address any issues or concerns.

For their part, the school districts said they will be providing additional communication to parents regarding many of the ongoing operational challenges, especially now as the economy reopens and some parents will be returning to work but students will not be returning to campuses in the coming weeks.

The superintendents said many answers to questions, such as whether the 2020-21 school year will start earlier or how summer school and camps will occur, have not been answered just yet because the superintendents themselves are waiting for direction and clarity from state and local governments.

In particular, large school districts, such as Katy ISD, need time to create efficient plans, Gregorski said.

“I think our community needs to take a minute or so to come up with some good plans that are effective,” he said.