Houston ISD says no year-round classes for 2020-21 school year

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In a letter sent to parents on Thursday, Houston Independent School District announced it will not move forward with the proposed year-round school year.

The proposal would have allowed for an amended 11-month academic calendar for the 2020-21 school year.

The district asked for feedback from parents, saying their comments were essential into making the decision.

School officials said with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the recent increase in cases, they determined the best course of action was to keep the existing 2020-21 academic school year calendar which provides a later start date and an additional 10 targeted remediation days.

"The later start date provides the district an opportunity to monitor the pattern of COVID-19 cases and make necessary adjustments as it relates to in-person, virtual learning, or a combination of the two," the HISD statement read.

District officials said academic boot camps will now be offered from Aug. 18-20 and during Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks. The camps will provide additional instructional hours for students who need them.

The first day of school for students who do not require additional instructional hours will be Monday, Aug. 24.

Candis Houston, President of Aldine American Federation of Teachers and a former teacher herself, said year-round schooling has its pros and cons.

It can burn out both teachers and students, but it gives teachers more days to complete their lesson plans.

"But, if you go year-round, then that puts strain on parents or teachers who are parents where their kids may not be year round," Houston said. "So, year-round school may cause more expenses in their household because what do you do with your own child that is not year-round?"

Houston said Aldine ISD and now Houston ISD plan to stick with its normal calendar year. She also said teachers are equally as frustrated as parents and want to know what is the definite plan, so teachers can also have an option on whether they want to stay in their contract or not.

"Everything is going to be okay," Houston said. "At the end of the day, I'm confident that the district will make the best decision for students and staff. I can say that for Aldine (ISD)."

Distance learning went into full effect with school closures earlier this year. Since March, 95 percent of the 240,000 HISD students have been contacted by the district, according to Houston ISD's Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan.

SEE ALSO: Texas schools track 'uncontactable' students

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School attendance requirements have been waived in Texas, but the state is still asking districts to keep track of students they have not heard from since COVID-19 prompted online learning.

Once schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, district staff deployed wireless internet devices, known as hotspots, and 14,000 laptop computers to students.

Parents who would like to provide their concerns or feedback, HISD says you can do so through the their website.

HISD releases full statement regarding the 2020-21 school year:
"HISD anticipates receiving specific details from the state next week about plans for reopening our schools. We have been considering three options: in-person instruction, distance learning, or a "hybrid model" which combines both in-person and distance learning. The district has formed a task force called the HISD Communicable Disease Plan Committee made up of employees, educators, parents, and health care officials. The group has been charged with gathering, reviewing, and discussing guidance from local, state, and federal health and education officials and providing recommendations for a reopening plan that prioritizes the safety of students, staff, and the community."

SEE ALSO: Texas Education Agency wants school districts to extend 2020-2021 school year
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