Teachers welcomed back as virtual instruction resumes post-storm

The robot in the front hall was covered in silver wrapping paper, complete with glowing eyes, a moving head, and arms made of red pipe cleaners. As she looked at the robots—a part of a project by students at Briscoe Elementary—Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan marveled at the students’ creativity.

Lathan was visiting the school, located in the East End just off Brays Bayou, as the first stop of the day. She visited a pair of HISD elementary schools to welcome teachers back after classes were canceled for more than a week due to the winter storm.

“Our teachers are back on campus. Our students are learning virtually,” Lathan said. “I just want to thank all members of Team HISD for their hard work and understanding and their flexibility.”

Many HISD schools and facilities were affected by the storm, with power outages and water issues. Briscoe Elementary had a busted pipe leak water into the library. Crews were hard at work to fix that issue before students return.

Similar problems happened across town in Meyerland, where Elrod Elementary School experienced some flooding in a temporary bathroom structure and a pre-K classroom.

It is a familiar problem for the school, as Principal Michael Hutchins pointed out that the campus and surrounding area had some flooding during Hurricane Harvey. It’s a community used to being resilient, he said.

“We’re still pushing forward. Kids are going to learn. Teachers are going to teach,” Hutchins said. “We stayed the course, and we’re going to make it through.”

The decision was made last week to allow students to learn virtually upon return, with face-to-face instruction to resume on Monday, March 1. Fermin Serna, a fourth-grade teacher at Elrod, welcomed that decision.

“Because today we are virtual, all of us, we have the time to check in on each [student],” Serna said. “I can try to help the situation with all of them.”