Breakdown of HISD's new upcoming school year plans

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Friday, July 17, 2020
HISD Superintendent Grenita Lathan outlines 2020 year
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HISD Superintendent Grenita Lathan outlines the plan for the 2020 school year.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- During a news conference on Wednesday, HISD outlined important dates and details regarding its 2020-2021 academic school year.

HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan announced HISD students would begin the school year virtually on Sept. 8.

"Our goal is to deliver a quality education, while ensuring the health and safety of students, families and staff," Lathan said.

She added that online instruction will continue for six weeks through Oct. 16, and face-to-face instruction will begin on Oct. 19.

Lathan said that the date for face-to-face instruction may be changed or extended, depending on recommendations from local, state, and federal health officials.

On Aug. 24, Lathan said all HISD parents will receive a phone call asking their preference, either virtual or face-to-face learning, for their child's instruction. She also said two weeks prior to returning to in-person learning, parents will receive another round of phone calls to confirm their commitments.

If the parent has multiple students at the same school or different schools, the parents must decide for each child individually.

Lathan added that families would be allowed to update their choices after six weeks or according to the latest health data.

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

The district is asking parents to allow their children to stay in one choice for six weeks at a time until the ending of the grading period.

Starting on July 31, parents will be asked to complete a 2020-2021 parent introduction to virtual learning course by Aug. 28. Lathan is encouraging all parents to complete the course and solicit feedback and input about the process.

"As we make preparations for a safe and strong start to the 2020 school year, it was critical to gather feedback from district families and teachers regarding experiences with virtual learning, and how schools should look in fall 2020," Lathan said.

The district is also working on providing better technology and internet hotspots for families in need.

Through the Power Up Program, all high school students will receive a laptop, Chromebook or iPad. The district has also purchased 35,000 additional devices and 6,000 internet hotspots for students.

"As we begin virtual learning in September, parents of students in need of a laptop or hotspot who have not yet received one from HISD, please contact your school principal and let them know any technology needs before the school year begins," Lathan said.

To ensure that every child is engaged in virtual learning this school year, HISD will attempt to reach every child who was not engaged in virtual learning during the spring semester starting on Aug. 3.

Lathan said after the first day of school, and every day after, students who have not logged in and started virtual learning will receive an at-home visit from a trained staff member or specialist.

SEE ALSO: Texas schools track 'uncontactable' students

Teachers will return to work virtually on Aug. 24, and will be notified by their supervisor when they will be able to return to campus, which will be in staggered phases, Lathan explained.

During the first six weeks of virtual learning, the district will be implementing asynchronous learning, which will allow students to work at their own pace while teachers support them through live interventions and daily instruction.

Students will be expected to complete all assigned virtual learning activities, as grades, attendance and participation will be a must. Lathan pointed out that grades will count during this period.

Also during virtual learning, the district will provide curbside meals for select schools with enrollment of 60 percent or more students on free and reduced lunches.

Once face-to-face instruction resumes, all students and teachers will be required to wear a mask, wash their hands frequently and adhere to social distancing requirements.

The district said it will also be mandatory for nurses, custodial staff, food service workers, and select special education staff to wear gloves.

All of the materials needed will be provided by the district for students and staff members.

Lathan said a flexible attendance policy will be adopted for students and staff so they aren't penalized for staying at home when they are sick, or if they have a family member or someone in their household who is sick.

As far as sports, the district said as long as classes are virtual, there won't be any workouts or sports at HISD schools. The district is willing to consider making adjustments to its sports schedule, like playing football in January.

Parents who may have questions regarding the back-to-school plan are asked to call the district's hotline after Aug. 3 at 713-556-4636.

Some Texas school districts are reopening campuses in the fall, while others will start with virtual learning, and then phase in face-to-face instruction.

You can keep up with the plans as they come in by visiting the link below.

Houston-area school districts' fall 2020 plans