HISD to change COVID response plan next month

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Friday, July 23, 2021
HISD superintendent reveals plan for return to full in-person instruction
Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House said while he's aware there's still COVID looming, a plan is being put into place to keep students, teachers and staff safe for a full return.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As students prepare to head back to school, HISD won't be requiring them to wear masks, and the district's health emergency protocols are being scaled down.

It's all part of the district's latest COVID-19 safety update, which was emailed to parents on Thursday.

In the email, HISD said its communicable disease plan, which governs the district's health and safety protocols during public health emergencies, will be formally deactivated on Aug. 2.

"As you may have heard, we are returning 100% in-person instruction this fall," said newly-appointed HISD Superintendent Millard House in a video message released along with the email. "This means that every single one of our students at HISD will be able to interact, face-to-face with their world class teachers. In-person instruction is critical for our students' growth and success, but we must also be safe. Which is why we're working in a partnership with health and education officials and keeping in place some of the key safety protocols this fall to ensure we have a safe transition."

According to the district's plan, HISD students and workers must quarantine at home if they have contracted COVID, are experiencing symptoms, live with someone who tested positive for the virus or have been notified that they've been in close contact with someone who tested positive.

The plan also says that a student or worker with a confirmed case of COVID must "self-isolate for 10 days after symptoms."


According to the email, HISD's committee that developed this plan will continue to meet on a regular basis and monitor local COVID conditions and follow any public health guidance.

"We are providing face-to-face instruction because we know that being in school is critically important for our students' growth and success," the email stated. "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in-person learning has not been associated with substantial community transmission throughout the pandemic. Just last week, the CDC issued new guidelines urging schools to fully reopen this fall."

The following protocols, however, will remain in place, according to HISD.

  • Students, staff and essential visitors who are sick are urged to stay at home.
  • Masks will be provided upon request and will be allowed to be worn inside schools and buildings, but won't be required per the state's mandate.
  • Plexiglass dividers will remain in place
  • Schools and buildings will be disinfected on a nightly basis.
  • There will be limited visitation and essential visitors will only be allowed by a pre-scheduled appointment.

House said the district will be releasing its official back-to-school plan in the next few weeks. Parents are urged to monitor the HISD website for updates.

HISD released the following statement to ABC13 on Saturday:

Houston ISD continues to monitor the conditions and spread of COVID-19 in our communities. We are taking steps to ensure the safety and health of our students and staff. Our actions are informed by the guidance of our partners at the Harris County Public Health department, the guidelines set by the CDC and the Texas Education Agency. The pandemic has taken a toll on our children and it's on all of us to ensure a safe return to the classroom where they can thrive alongside their friends.

On Thursday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo raised the county's COVID-19 threat level from yellow "moderate" to orange "significant" in the midst of spiking cases during a "fourth wave" of the pandemic.

The county leader cited multiple forces in the summertime surge, but emphasized the current wave of vaccine hesitance and misinformation in the midst of a rampantly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

READ MORE: Harris Co.'s COVID threat level raised from yellow to orange in midst of latest spike

While Gov. Abbott said he would not bring back a mask mandate, Judge Lina Hidalgo pleaded with residents to wear one to get numbers down.