Families concerned after photo shows Humble ISD students in crowded hallway

ByRoxanne Bustamante KTRK logo
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Photo shows high school students in crowded hallway
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The photo, which was taken at Atascocita High School, shows students crammed in a hallway during their passing period.

HUMBLE, Texas (KTRK) -- Family members are concerned that Atascocita High School may not have enough safety measures in place after a student snapped a picture of a crowded hallway during the school's passing period.

The student's family member wanted to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation from the district.

In the photo sent by the student, dozens of students can be seen walking in a crowded hallway, but most students appear to be wearing masks. Eyewitness News blurred the picture to conceal the students' faces.

"My biggest concern is with safety and knowing that there has not been any testing, and contact tracing has been an absolute joke," the family member said. "Whether it's for a few minutes or not, but if they have their mask off and they are in a large crowd, how can you tell who (those) close contacts were? They have no idea."

A spokesperson with Humble ISD said the picture is a snapshot of the school's passing period.

The district sent the following information after the students picture and security footage from the high school was reviewed.

When the bell rings, people enter the hallway and then quickly disperse across the campus. COVID-19 safeguards put in place for this school year include all middle and high schools students and staff wear masks. Schools implemented staggered bell schedules to reduce the number of students in the hallway together. For example, at Atascocita High School, the bell rings and students in even numbered classrooms begin walking to their next class. After five minutes, the next bell rings and students in odd numbered classrooms begin walking to their next class. This spaces out the pedestrian traffic in the hallway over a total of 12 minutes to allow for more physical distancing. Last year, all the students changed classes together within seven minutes.

Humble ISD told ABC13 that the district was one of the first school districts to start school this fall.

Students started virtual first and special education classes were on campus starting on Aug. 17. All in-person learning started on Aug. 24.

Humble ISD sent this statement regarding the picture:

Humble ISD allows parents to choose online learning or on campus learning for each child and parents can change their choice at any time, not just at the end of a grading period. Parents of about 63% of students in Humble ISD have chosen on campus learning. Parents of about 37% of students in Humble ISD have chosen online learning. Since our first day of school on Aug. 11, there have been a total of 52 student cases and 31 staff cases on campuses. There have been 13 schools with 0 cases so far. We have 45,400 students and 6,000 employees.

Humble ISD has published its own COVID-19 dashboard to keep the community informed of all on campus cases.

The dashboard displays cases on campus and the number of students at each school by learning location. Data is divided between elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and additional district buildings.

We want to provide our students, their families, and our community with as much transparency as possible so that they can make decisions for their families.

The family member said they are considering moving the student from in-person learning to online learning.

"It is alarming that the school doesn't seem to have these concerns, and they are pushing through even though they are doing so without any type of timeline or without any testing protocols," she said.

Candis Houston, President of Aldine AFT, said she expects to see more incidents like this as more schools roll out in-person learning. Houston said every campus is executing TEA guidelines differently, but it's important for parents to use their voice and report any safety concerns to their principal or at the school districts board meetings.

"We want to reiterate to people - thank you for reporting, but we got to have proof and proof is you taking pictures. Proof is if you have an email, because we need that so we can better serve you," Houston said. "It is campus-level, so if they have concerns at their campus, I don't want them assuming that the district knows. They really do need to reach out because it could be that the principal didn't follow the instructions. As of right now, I've only had very few complaints. And I'm going to be very honest with you, I'm very shocked."

Houston said it's important to note Aldine ISD has fewer students signed up for in-person learning, and the district just started phasing in brick-and-mortar this week.

Zeph Capo, Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers, said the organization's COVID-19 tracker has an option for teachers to submit pictures, videos or any safety concerns they may have.

"We all have a responsibility to one another. We all have a responsibility to follow the rules, be vigilant and give each other a bit of grace as well. But also, ultimately, we're responsible for the safety of each other," Capo said. "Wear your mask when you're supposed to keep others safe. Report information that you see that may be important for others to make decisions on how they keep themselves and their families safe."

The state also has a COVID-19 dashboard, which tracks COVID-19 cases in Texas schools through a self-reporting system.

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