JUST IN: Tomball ISD passes resolution on coronavirus response, approves free meals for students in interim

The Tomball ISD board of trustees held an emergency board meeting March 13 to discuss the district’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. (Dylan Sherman/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Tomball ISD board of trustees held an emergency board meeting March 13 to discuss the district’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. (Dylan Sherman/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Tomball ISD board of trustees held an emergency board meeting March 13 to discuss the district’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. (Dylan Sherman/Community Impact Newspaper)

All Tomball ISD students are eligible to receive up to two meals a day from the district while classes are suspended March 16-20, board members decided March 13.

The TISD board of trustees held an emergency board meeting March 13 to discuss the district’s response to coronavirus. TISD officials announced March 12
the district would remain closed March 16-20 following spring break.

The resolution trustees approved March 13 allows the district to offer meals at Tomball High School, where parents can pick up a week’s worth of meals from 8 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday or Wednesday.

These meals are for all TISD students, but parents or students must provide a valid student identification number to receive the meals, according to meeting information.

Board President Michael Pratt said the March 13 meeting is the first time an imminent-threat meeting has been held at TISD.

As of March 13, school plans are very fluid, Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora said. With new updates daily, trustees said they are unsure how long school will remain closed. Salazar-Zamora said the school closure will be constantly re-evaluated.

“It is a decision that will be addressed next week if we need to carry on,” she said.

Salazar-Zamora said she has been in constant contact with regional, state and national officials to ensure the district remains proactive.

Within the resolution, Salazar-Zamora listed five areas the district is focusing on amid the coronavirus outbreak: self-reporting if students or staff have traveled or been in contact with someone who has the virus; implementing online or remote instruction; how to pay staff salaries over the extended break; cleaning; and dealing with students’, parents’ and staff’s social and emotional health issues. However, the district had not announced further details as of publication.

Remote learning was identified as a solution for students not being in school; however, trustee John McStravick said he is unsure if that is the best option. District officials did not indicate whether students or staff would have to make up the class time missed.

“Are there alternatives [for] those who don’t have the bandwidth?” McStravick said, referring to families without internet or device access at home.

Salazar-Zamora said, if necessary, online learning will certainly come with a few challenges.

“Students will not be penalized,” she said. “We have to understand that everyone’s circumstances are different, and this is unprecedented times.”

In a letter sent to families March 6 prior to spring break, TISD suspended perfect attendance rules for the remainder of the academic year.

The letter also informed staff and students that if they travel to a country identified as a high-risk area for the virus, they must inform the school and wait 14 days before returning to district facilities.

The resolution adopted March 13 also included a proclamation that allows staff to be paid during the district’s closure.

“It is important that we pay our staff even though they are not able to be at work,” Salazar-Zamora said. “They would have been if they could have been.”

Staff that are asked to come into work will also be paid time and a half, she said.

“[Staff] is on payroll to be made available in the event we need for them to do something,” Salazar-Zamora said.


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