Tomball ISD board president: ‘The 20-21 calendar that we approved is looking stable’

Although 2020-21 plans are subject to change, Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora said she hopes to minimize disruptions for families as a result of the pandemic. (Kara McIntyre/Community Impact Newspaper)
Although 2020-21 plans are subject to change, Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora said she hopes to minimize disruptions for families as a result of the pandemic. (Kara McIntyre/Community Impact Newspaper)

Although 2020-21 plans are subject to change, Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora said she hopes to minimize disruptions for families as a result of the pandemic. (Kara McIntyre/Community Impact Newspaper)

Tomball ISD leadership said June 8 there are no plans currently for the district to modify its approved 2020-21 academic calendar in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Although 2020-21 plans are subject to change, Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora said she hopes to minimize disruptions for families as a result of the pandemic.

“At this point we feel confident that we can continue to provide the level of education with the calendar that [our board] has approved in the past. I want to keep things as normal and as we have planned for the families that we are so proud to serve,” Salazar-Zamora said during a June 8 teleconferenced workshop meeting with the board of trustees.

The district is also working on plans for how students can be brought back to TISD facilities in the fall, Salazar-Zamora said during a presentation to the board of trustees June 8 about this fall.

“Our intent in fall 2020 and beyond is to try and return to some sort of normalcy that we are accustomed to in a brick-and-mortar-delivered means of instruction. I think that’s an important thing that our community needs to hear,” said Michael Pratt, the president of the board of trustees, on June 8, summarizing Salazar-Zamora’s presentation. “And then I think the second thing that as you understand it right now, you are not recommending any calendar adjustments knowing that could always change. But right now—today, June 8—the 20-21 calendar that we approved is looking stable.”

The approved calendar has classes beginning Aug. 18 and ending for students May 27, 2021, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.


The Texas Education Agency released guidelines May 7 about possible adjustments school districts could consider making to the 2020-21 calendar in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to minimize anticipated disruptions, such as a potential increase in absence rates, as Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.

On May 28, nearby district Spring ISD became one of the first districts to approve a revised 2020-21 calendar, which includes intersessional breaks and runs Aug. 17 to June 25, 2021. Additionally, Houston ISD is asking parents for feedback on a draft 2020-21 calendar that calls for 11 months of school as well, Community Impact Newspaper reported.

“I’m not saying that an intersessional calendar, more of a year-round instruction isn’t good, but currently for our district and our community I feel that we can continue with what we have put forward,” Salazar-Zamora said June 8. “And of course, if we have a need to have to be out, similar to what happened, if COVID were to have a second wave, second phase that requires it, we’ll certainly adapt to it at that point. That would be a lot for people to hear and just adjust to all at one time, and I’m trying to not have to create an additional ripple in families.”

However, Salazar-Zamora said there is potential for TISD to implement some form of hybrid learning or alternate schedules for the upcoming school year to abide by health and social distancing guidelines for educational settings.

The district has formed a re-entry task force made up of the executive team, central office administration and campus administration, Salazar-Zamora said, which has met twice as of June 8. The task force is looking at how school can best resume within local, state and national guidelines.

“We certainly don’t want to be a huge distraction and a disruption to the families in the Tomball district, but we also have to abide by the requirements that we’re being expected to abide by,” she said.

Salazar-Zamora said although most guidelines are still preliminary, several items the task force is considering include whether to require mask wearing; limiting the sharing of student items and supplies, meaning books and other materials cannot be shared; spacing desks six feet apart; distancing on buses; controlling traffic flow through buildings; installing potential sneeze guards; limiting outside access to field trips and visits from volunteers, guests and organizations; limiting transition times, including how or if teachers transition between student groups; whether to take daily temperatures; and providing adequate opportunities for hand-washing. Additionally, guidelines suggest districts are cautious about shared spaces, such as playgrounds and cafeterias, potentially moving students to eat bagged or boxed meals in their classroom so the cafeteria can be converted to learning space, Salazar-Zamora said.

“What would this look like if we could get all of our students and have them here every day a week or alternating days?” she said. “We are looking at is it best to have our little ones, our elementary, our intermediate, perhaps junior high [students] with the frequency [in person] that we need and do something creatively with our high school students? They might really enjoy that. Our parents might not be as bothered by that. ... We probably have plan A, plan B, plan C, plan D and plan E plans.”

Salazar-Zamora said the district is awaiting guidance from the state on how districts will receive funding if students are taught remotely before making any concrete plans.

“Our goal and our hope is to have as many students return to our Tomball ISD schools and that we can educate everyone safely, including keeping our staff safe as well,” she said.

In addition, Salazar-Zamora said a survey was recently sent to TISD families to help in decision making, and the board will continue its discussion on fall plans at the July meeting.

“Relationships matter. They always have in Tomball, and they will continue to even more so,” she said. “Taking care of the people and the organization is the key to our district’s success, and I think moving forward whatever we do for the plan for return of fall 2020 will keep that in mind.”

The board of trustees will meet via Zoom for a teleconferenced regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. June 9. View more details here.
By Anna Lotz

Editor, Tomball/Magnolia & Conroe/Montgomery

Anna joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. In July 2017, she transitioned to editor for the Tomball/Magnolia edition. She began covering the communities of Conroe and Montgomery as well in 2020. Anna covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Anna served as editor-in-chief of Cedars, interned with the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., and spent time writing for the Springfield News-Sun and Xenia Daily Gazette.