On July 24, city of Houston and Harris County public health officials ordered all public schools and nonreligious private schools to stay closed to in-person instruction until at least Sept. 8.
Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of the Harris County Public Health Department, and Dr. David Persse, local health authority for the city of Houston, cited the pandemic, including increased COVID-19 transmission rates and hospitalizations in the county, in justifying the order. They also credited feedback from superintendents, parents, teachers and school board members.
"The feedback overwhelmingly expressed the sentiment that the community understands the risks of transmitting COVID-19 in a school setting and is advising public health to help minimize the risk of transmission through in-person education at this time," Shah and Persse said in the joint statement.
With this change in back-to-school plans, HISD sent out a survey July 24 to gain feedback from parents and staff on how they would like the 2020-21 school year to continue. Community members may submit feedback through July 31.
The options consist of beginning classes fully online Aug. 11, which is the start of the school year, or delaying the start of the year until Aug. 18, Aug. 25 or Sept. 8. With each new first day of school, teachers would also report to campus at later dates than the current Aug. 3 date. If the start were delayed until Sept. 8, families would have the option to immediately choose between online or in-person learning, per the district's original three-option plan.
If the first day of school were delayed, it would affect holidays in the 2020-21 calendar. Currently, HISD's calendar includes weeklong breaks in October and February.
Depending on if or how long the start of school is delayed, it would remove one or both of the October and February breaks. Additionally, if school were to be postponed until Sept. 8, students would lose both weeklong breaks, and the last day of school would move from May 28 to June 4.
Here are the options parents and staff members can choose, per the news release from HISD.
- Option 1: Classes begin online for all Tuesday, Aug. 11 and online and on campus Sept. 8. Teachers report Aug. 3. No on campus extracurriculars until at least Sept. 8 under the current order.
- Option 2: Classes begin online for all Tuesday, Aug. 18 and online and on campus Sept. 8. Teachers report Aug. 10. No on campus extracurriculars until at least Sept. 8 under the current order. This change requires no October break because of state requirements for operational minutes and teacher contractual days
- Option 3: Classes begin online for all Tuesday, Aug. 25 and hopefully online and on campus on Sept. 8. Teachers report Aug. 13. This change requires no October and February breaks because of state requirements for operational minutes and teacher contractual days.
- Option 4: Classes begin on campus and online Tuesday, Sept. 8. Teachers report Aug. 18. This change requires no October and February breaks, classes until June 4 and no late arrival or early release at middle and high schools because of state requirements for operational minutes and teacher contractual days.
Shawn Arrajj contributed to this report.