HISD begins 1st day of in-person learning

Monday, October 19, 2020
Changes as HISD begins 1st day of in-person learning
Some HISD students are headed back to campus, but what does that look like? ABC13's Charly Edsitty shows you above.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Thousands of Houston ISD students are back in the classroom Monday for the first day of in-person learning.

ABC13 was there as students at Young Elementary were greeted by Houston Astros mascot Orbit.

As students climbed off the buses, they were also seen getting their temperatures checked. Face masks are required.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan has visited different schools throughout the district.

She offered opening remarks at Highland Heights Elementary, where she was joined by U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Mayor Sylvester Turner, County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, State Senator John Whitmire, State Representative Jarvis Johnson and Ross Moody of the Moody Foundation.

WATCH: HISD superintendent ushers in return of in-person learning

It's HISD back-to-school, version 2.0. With tens of thousands of students returning to campus, the district's leader assured everyone involved in HISD that safety is the top priority.

Not all students will be physically returning to class.

According to HISD's latest report, about 40% of parents chose for their student to return to in-person learning, while 60% opted to continue online learning for their children. HISD noted about 80 percent of its enrolled student population of 195,941 responded, according to its website.

HISD parent Carmen Keith said she feels it's important for her children to return to school, because they were struggling with remote learning and she fears they were not getting the education they need.

"I've kind of let them know that recess and things are going to be a little bit different," Keith said. "We have been practicing putting on our masks."

Keith said it will be her youngest daughter's first day in-person for kindergarten.

"The thing that I've been really big on telling my kids is that this isn't forever," Keith said. "I think that even if school does looks different, and it's not as free as it used to be, I think that just letting them know they are going to see friends and teachers, and you know that they are going to smile and be happy, and I'm hoping for that."

Keith said if the adjustment is too difficult or the COVID-19 spread increases she will make the decision to remove her children and enroll them back into online learning.

Allison Newport said she is keeping her children at home, learning remotely. Newport said she would like to see her children back to face-to-face instruction, but she doesn't feel that the schools have the resources or funding they desperately need.

"I think we can all kind of come together and rethink education and try to do what's best for our schools and our kids," Newport said. "Some of the things like doing outdoor lunches that will be safer and better all-around really become impossible because there's not staff that is able to support that."

MORE: 4 things to know when HISD in-person classes resume

Desks may be separated between three to six feet, if possible, and school meals will be prepackaged. Each school will decide if students eat in the classroom or the cafeteria. School buses will also be limited to 50 percent capacity.

Andy Dewey, executive vice president of Houston AFT, said many teachers and staff are apprehensive about the first day back in-person. Dewey said it will take at least until the end of the week to truly understand how many students are learning in-person and what classes or conditions will be like for educators and the staff.

"We'll see tomorrow," Dewey said. "Already we've had stories that there's not enough PPE, available or it's not being distributed. Again, too many kids in the classroom. Not six feet, maybe in some cases not even three feet, and so they are sending their child into a potentially dangerous situation and they have a choice not to do it."

The Houston Independent School District's @ H.O.M.E. Hotline will be available at 713-556-INFO (4636), to provide answers to questions from students and parents about fall distance learning.

You can find more information on HISD reopening plan on the district's website.

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