Students in Tomball ISD will forego in-person instruction for at least four weeks, beginning face-to-face learning no earlier than Sept. 15, TISD Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora announced in a letter to families July 22.

The district will begin the school year as scheduled on Aug. 18. However, all students will receive remote/virtual instruction only, the letter states.

The district's decision follows a letter from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health, that was sent July 20 asking superintendents to consider delaying face-to-face instruction until at least October. Further, Magnolia ISD announced July 20 it would delay in-person instruction to at least Sept. 8 and begin the school year virtually Aug. 12.

"As we continue the planning process, Tomball ISD is taking all state and local health recommendations into consideration to help us make the best and safest decisions for the health and well-being of our students and staff," Salazar-Zamora wrote.

TISD previously asked families to opt for face-to-face or virtual instruction for the fall semester, with commitment forms due July 24. Although the school year will begin virtually only, families are still encouraged to make a decision on future instruction, as the district will take that into consideration to limit disruptions, should students transition from virtual to face-to-face learning after the four-week delay, the letter states.

The letter states the district is planning to allow those families who selected face-to-face instruction to return to campus on Sept. 15. However, this is subject to change depending on whether there is a significant reduction in COVID-19 cases by that time.

"We know that many of you have opted for face-to-face instruction," Salazar-Zamora wrote.

To limit disruptions for students, the letter states students who have opted for face-to-face instruction will be scheduled into classes with their face-to-face teachers who will provide instruction remotely until students can return to campus. At the end of the first grading period, students may opt to enroll in Tomball Virtual School and transition to instruction provided by virtual teachers, should students have returned to campus.

Likewise, students who have opted for virtual instruction will be provided instruction by virtual teachers. Students would continue with these teachers at the end of the first grading period, should they choose to remain with Tomball Virtual School. Otherwise, these students would be reassigned to face-to-face classes and likely new teachers, should students choose face-to-face instruction at the end of the grading period and students have returned to campus.

"These practices are in effort to provide seamless teacher support regardless of environment for those students who make their commitment to the instructional environment and remain in that option for the semester," Salazar-Zamora wrote.

Families who have submitted a commitment form already—choosing one type of instruction—are able to fill out the form again and change their option. The latest submitted form will be used, the letter states.

Families can find the latest information on the district's reopening website, as more information will be shared as it becomes available, the letter states.

"We know that the decision to begin the school year with remote instruction impacts your family and we expect questions regarding technology, extracurricular activities, coursework expectations and more to arise," Salazar-Zamora wrote. "As always, the safety and well-being of our students and staff will continue to be at the forefront of every decision we make. We will get through this together as Team Tomball!"