At the Sept. 8 board meeting, HISD trustees approved an expedited back-to-school plan for middle and high school students with a 6-1 vote, with trustee Martina Lemond Dixon voting against. Middle and high school students who opt for in-person learning will be able to return full time on Sept. 21 rather than Oct. 12.
Trustees first approved its schedule on Aug. 3 in a 6-1 vote. The plan had most students returning full time by Oct. 12, with the exception of high school students who would be required to stay on a staggered A/B schedule until a vaccine is found.
Per the original plan, sixth- through 12th-graders who chose in-person instruction have been on the A/B schedule since Aug. 24; sixth- through eighth-graders would be allowed return full time Oct. 12 under the original plan.
With the modified schedule, all students who choose in-person learning may return to school full time on Sept. 21, according to the district. All middle and high school students and staff will be required to wear masks to reduce the spread of the virus.
HISD Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen said part of the reason the district is pushing for more students to return to school earlier without the A/B schedule is because some students are suffering academically with online asynchronous learning. The district's three-week progress report—which Fagen said typically shows a slight academic decline as students return from summer—showed slightly more secondary students who are not performing well.
"There is no question that for some students, the A/B schedule is a challenge," she said. "There are many students who are struggling more than usual—I'll say that—particularly at the secondary [level]. That's one of the reasons we would like to see A/B students have the opportunity to come back when it's appropriate."
Additionally, Fagen presented the district's metrics for tracking COVID-19 cases across the district. The district is measuring Texas Medical Center hospitalizations, seven-day averages for positive COVID-19 cases, beds at local hospitals being used by COVID-19 patients and active cases in Humble ISD's ZIP codes, among others.
If the area sees another spike in cases, Fagen said students will return to a staggered A/B schedule to reduce the number of students on campus.
"If we learn something, we update [the metrics]," she said. "This has been a constant work in progress. ... If we find something better, we're open to making it better."
Other agenda items:
- Humble ISD trustees also unanimously approved a fiscal year 2020-21 property tax rate of $1.38405 per $100 valuation—a decrease from the FY 2019-20 tax rate of $1.41835. HISD Chief Financial Officer Mike Seale said homeowners will be paying 3.4 cents less per $100 valuation, because the district's maintenance and operations rate, which funds the district’s day-to-day operations, was lowered from $1.06835 to $1.03405. The interest and sinking or debt service rate remained unchanged at $0.35.