HISD considers year-round school calendar

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Classes at Houston ISD schools could be held online for at least the first semester of the new school year thanks to the ongoing coronvirus crisis, according to district leaders.

"We are prepared to continue the HISD at-home platform if required for the 2020-21 school year, or if future school interruptions occur," interim superintendent Grenita Lathan said Friday.

In addition to where classes will commence, when they'll happen is also being mulled over.

Year-round classes are being considered, as well as lengthening the school day by extending instruction time by 30 minutes each day. Changes to the academic calendar would have to be approved by the HISD Board of Trustees.

In a wide-ranging address, Lathan also laid out plans for graduating seniors.

"I determined it was not feasible to hold 45 graduation ceremonies and to put our families at risk," Lathan said.

In what she called one of the hardest decisions in her career, Lathan said ceremonies have been scheduled virtually for June 14.

Lathan also outlined recommendations to district leaders including the option of hiring non-certified career and education teachers and waiving minimal attendance for class credit.

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 Latham. 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.

The district plans to deploy 25,000 more laptops for students, Lathan said.

Distance learning questions are being handled by a special hotline set up by HISD. That number is 713-556-4636.

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

This announcement comes three days after the Texas Education Agency recommended three options for the future: move to a year-long model, add 30 days to a traditional 180-day calendar, or spread the school year out with intermittent breaks.

The district was heavily involved in a series of food distribution events since the pandemic changed ways of life for residents in the district. HISD distributed approximately 5.2 million pounds of food to 125,000 households, according to Lathan.

Those food events held at NRG Stadium are scheduled to end on May 22.
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