Following a statewide call on Tuesday between school district superintendents and Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, I wanted to provide an update on plans for the 2020-2021 school year – which remain to be finalized.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise,
the situation remains fluid as we try to determine next steps on what the
school year will look like. During his presentation, the commissioner
emphasized that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is working with Gov. Greg
Abbott’s medical advisors to establish public health guidance for school
districts. While preliminary information has been provided by TEA, final
guidance will not be available until mid-July.
Editor’s Note: The HISD Board of Education is hosting a public hearing at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 28 to gather feedback on beginning the process of becoming a District of Innovation, as designated by the TEA. More information can be found here.
The Houston Independent School District Board of Education at
its virtual meeting on Thursday voted 7-2 in favor of a resolution to initiate
the process of designating HISD as a District of Innovation.
By adopting District of Innovation status, HISD could exercise greater local
control over decisions impacting positive educational outcomes for students.
The resolution approved by the Board of Education outlines specific exemptions
from state law that the district would seek, including:
As the Houston Independent School District continues its food distribution efforts throughout the district, there has been an update to one of Thursday’s distribution sites.
Hartsfield Elementary School, 5001 Perry St., will now host
a food distribution site at 9 a.m. Thursday, April 16, replacing the site at Cullen
Middle School, which has since been designated as a COVID-19 testing site for
the city. All other sites for this week remain the same.
Although the site has changed, participants must still
adhere to the same guidelines for food distribution. As families arrive at
sites, nutrition staff will minimize contact by filling out the required Emergency
Food Assistance Program forms for families and placing food in their trunks.
Participants who walk to the sites also must adhere to social distancing
The HISD Social and Emotional Learning Department will host a
webinar for parents next week to guide them as they adjust to distance learning.
“Incorporating Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) At Home” will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15. Parents and students will learn ways to incorporate SEL practices into their daily routines, understand the importance of mindfulness, and learn exercises and techniques that can be done by adults and students of all ages.
HISD students, parents, teachers, and principals: Are you ready for a fun challenge to showcase distance learning?
As everyone adjusts to the new reality of online instruction, HISD has designated next week (April 13—April 17) as Virtual Spirit Week. Each day will be designated with a different theme to encourage students to share their at-home learning activities. In fact, everyone is invited to participate in the daily challenge—students, teachers, and even administrators.
As you participate each day, take photos or short videos and share them on social media using the hashtag #HISDSpiritWeek. The idea is to flood social media with positive learning activities and create a sense of community, school spirit, and inclusivity.
HISD Social and Emotional Learning Department will host a webinar for parents
this week to guide them as they adjust to distance learning.
webinar, titled “Coping Strategies for Parents” will be held on Wednesday,
April 8 at 2 p.m. This is part of a weekly webinar series that provides
social-emotional learning tools to HISD parents and students.
The Houston Independent School District is
joining the Texas Division of State Health Services and Texas Education Agency
as the agencies roll out the “Apart We Stand Together” public health campaign.
The campaign’s goal is to ensure all school districts statewide and broader communities have access to a comprehensive set of information and resources about COVID-19.
The campaign will include easy access to health resources and
information, with the goal of keeping Texas residents – from the smallest towns
to the largest cities – healthier and safer as we all battle the spread of
This public health guidance is
based on what scientists know about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Find
more information at Texas.gov/Covid19, and continue to follow updates from HISD at HoustonISD.org/HealthAlerts.
As districts around the state and across the country continue to grapple with how to proceed in this unprecedented challenge to public health and education, the Houston Independent School District supports the nation’s need to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, HISD will extend its districtwide closurethroughFriday, April 10. All schools and offices are scheduled to reopen on Monday, April 13.
District administration will re-evaluate on Monday, April 6, to
determine whether a longer closure beyond April 10 will be necessary. Texas
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced that the state will waive STAAR testing
requirements for the 2019-2020 school year. STAAR testing was scheduled to
begin in April. The district also will provide more information about online learning and
alternative education later this week.
In response to high demand on Saturday, March 14 at Chavez High School, HISD, in partnership with the Houston Food Bank School Market program, will offer daily food distribution at 31 additional campuses beginning Wednesday, March 18 and continuing through Friday, March 20.
The five campuses previously scheduled to serve as food distribution locations will remain unchanged on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17.
first-hand, the enormous need in the community at our first distribution site,
it was clear that we needed to increase our efforts to help more families in
partnership with the Houston Food Bank,” said HISD Interim Superintendent
Grenita Lathan. “Our top priority right now is doing our part to ensure that
our children are being fed during these unprecedented times, and I am thankful
to all who are stepping up to serve families.”