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.
district and school-based employees gathered online for HISD’s first-ever all
virtual Professional Learning Series (PLS), three days of professional
development, team building, and preparation for the upcoming 2020-21 school
The theme of
this year’s event, which took place June 15-17, was “Virtual Learning and
Beyond: Bridging Gaps with Strong Systems.” A major focus of the series
included preparing for a virtual school system, as well as management best practices
and guidance for schools and teachers on how to support students engaged in
“We are embracing the virtual learning space across HISD,
and PLS this summer is no exception,” Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan
said during the recorded general session. “It is our goal that our leaders
rejuvenate, renew and reimagine the possibilities for the upcoming school
can now complete the applications necessary to receive Pandemic Electronic
Benefit Transfer (P-EBT), a one-time benefit for families who lost access to
free or reduced-price meals due to school closures.
billion benefit program was approved by the United States Department of
Agriculture to help eligible families buy food during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The one-time benefit of up to $285 will be issued on an EBT card, which can be
used like a debit card to assist families in buying food from any retailer that
accepts the Texas Lone Star Card.
The Houston Independent School District will be holding virtual summer school from June 8 to July 2.
The district is planning for more than 40,000 students to participate in online summer instruction via Microsoft Teams with a teacher.
Students will attend virtual summer school Monday to Thursday, and daily attendance will be two hours for students in grades PK-2, three hours for students in grades 3-5, and four hours for students in grades 6-11. Summer learning schedules for high school students taking credit recovery courses and/or courses for original credit as approved by their school counselors will be determined by the courses they are enrolled.
HISD families may be eligible to receive Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT), a one-time benefit of up to $285 to be issued on an EBT card to assist families during the district’s closure.
The $1 billion benefit program was approved by the United
States Department of Agriculture to help eligible families buy food during the COVID-19
pandemic. The EBT card can be used like a debit card to buy food from any
retailer that accepts the Texas Lone Star Card.
Children up to 21 years old who are certified for free or
reduced-price meals at school in Texas during the 2019-2020 school year and all
children who attend a school that offers meals at no charge through the
Community Eligibility Provision — as HISD does —
are eligible to receive P-EBT benefits.
Three weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, an early
morning fire swept through the home of an HISD family, causing them to lose
The early April blaze not only destroyed the Jackson
family’s home and the entirety of its contents, but it also left Destiny
Jackson, whose five children attend HISD schools, with severe burns over a
large percentage of her body after she ran into the burning home to carry her
youngest son, Malik, to safety.
“My family and I are still dealing with a lot of emotion
from that night,” Marcus Jackson said. “It is very hard for me talk about it,
but what I can tell you is that my wife is the bravest person I know.”
As the school year comes to a close, the Houston Independent
School District is transitioning from its community food distribution efforts
to a curbside summer meals program for students.
Beginning June 1, families will be able to pick up boxed
student meals twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays at one of 68 designated schools across
the district. Boxes may be picked up by students, parents, or other adult
Each box will contain a day’s worth of meals, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. Families will receive several days’ worth of food — three boxes on Mondays and four on Thursdays — per child at each pickup.
Students from Black, Gregory-Lincoln, Hamilton, Meyerland, Pershing, and Revere middle schools collaborated on the HISD Dance Connected project, inspired by a narrative written by Pershing Middle School student Mariam Galstyan.
Mariam’s narrative, which is read by
Gregory-Lincoln student Kendal Burns, was inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic. Meyerland
PVA teacher Chadwick Peters did the video editing and sound mixing.
HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan on Wednesday hosted the first in a series of three virtual roundtables with PTA/PTO parent leaders to share feedback, provide insight, and address questions regarding distance learning efforts and information about the coming 2020-2021 school year.
During this first Virtual Parent Connection session, much of the
conversation centered around HISD’s pursuit of the District of Innovation
designation, resources to engage students and families, as well as ways that parent
organizations can support their schools while the district is operating
remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lathan said students, parents, and staff have done a remarkable
job adjusting to distance learning and asked parents to share some of the needs
they are experiencing. She also asked parents to share what would they need
from her and HISD team as they prepare for the 2020-21 school year, and what
assistance families need to navigate HISD virtual platforms.