As an HISD crossing guard, Mary Campbell has always placed a strong focus on student safety as she carefully ushered students across busy streets. This fall, her mission is no different – but her job is.
Campbell is one of 72 school crossing guards tasked with helping students maintain physical distancing at HISD’s 36 Digital Learning Centers, which provide students without technology a place to complete virtual lessons during HISD’s online-only first six weeks of school.
With the help of physical distancing floor markers, Campbell keeps each student six feet apart and leads them down the hall to breakfast.
“Good morning,” she said, greeting each student as they entered the school. “Are you hungry?”
Charged with guiding students into and through the building, Campbell keeps a watchful eye as they undergo temperature checks and receive clearance bands at the front door and find seats in the computer labs. Campbell will conduct this work until she returns to her normal duties once in-person instruction begins on Oct. 19.
While it’s not the typical service crossing guards provide, district officials are quick to note it’s just as important as helping students cross the street.
“The school crossing guards are like our frontline of defense against COVID-19 because they are the first school personnel our children will see upon arrival to their campus,” said Barry Taylor, senior manager for Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations.
“Our crossing guards are so eager and willing to do all they can to help our children get in and out of the buildings safely,” Taylor said. “I am excited about their extended role helping the children with social distancing.”
For Campbell, it’s a welcome change.
“It’s a lot of walking back and forth, but I like that it keeps me active,” Campbell said. “I was tired of sitting at home.”
Campbell has been a school crossing guard for three years. Twice a day, rain or shine, the retired 71-year-old can be found at her post at Daily Elementary School, where she helps students safely cross the street at Briar Forest Drive and Enclave Parkway.
Though she hasn’t seen as many students as she’s accustomed to while manning her temporary post at Cunningham, she said she’s happy to be back at a job she described as rewarding.
“I love what I do because I love the babies,” Campbell said. “And they love me as much as I love them.”
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