How Houston-area schools have changed since reopening during a pandemic

Saturday, October 17, 2020
How Houston-area schools have changed since reopening
WATCH: It's been months since Houston ISD students were in classrooms and here's what's new.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For the first time since March, Houston ISD will welcome students back into classrooms on Monday, but parents and staff are still questioning whether it is safe.

Criselda Reyna is a Houston ISD teacher and parent. Reyna said Friday she was notified that her school would be closing for deep cleaning due to possible exposure.

"They said there was an individual that might have been around somebody that had COVID-19 and they were in the building and they were showing symptoms, so therefore they closed the building," Reyna said.

It is unclear how many Houston ISD schools have closed due to the current COVID-19 cases.

Now, Reyna is in quarantine for 14 days and getting tested. She said her children will continue to learn virtually, despite the challenges, as thousands of Houston ISD students will be returning to the classroom for in-person learning on Monday.

Houston ISD released its Communicable Disease Plan to parents on Friday, and in it, it details that there will be a task force in charge of reviewing health and safety guidelines.

There will be at least four noticeably different details when students walk back into school on Monday, including pre-packed school meals, and according to the district, it will be up to each individual school whether students eat in the classroom or in the cafeteria.

Leslie Almendarez's children go to school in Galena Park ISD. She said initially she wanted her children to learn virtually for the school year, but they were struggling.

"I really think that they should be in school until a certain point that I see something is really wrong and I need to pull them out," Almendarez said. "The good thing about Galena Park is they give you the option if you want to get them out (of in-person learning)."

Candis Houston, the president of Aldine American Federation of Teachers, said custodians and teachers have called her crying, feeling overwhelmed, overworked and concerned for their safety.

"I can tell you that I do like the procedure that our district has in place, let me state that," Houston said. "What I dislike is that the procedure isn't always being communicated to the staff correctly by the principal."

Houston said that's why parents and staff will see the reopening plans implemented differently from one school campus to the next and also from each school district.

The Aldine AFT joined the Houston AFT and Houston Educational Support Personnel union on Saturday at a Caravan event to raise awareness about school safety programs and the community is welcome to join.

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