Teachers union: Houston ISD should offer virtual learning until case numbers flatten

HOUSTON, Texas -- In a set of recommendations published July 13, the Houston Federation of Teachers called on Houston ISD to start the school year with equitable virtual learning and begin phasing in school reopenings only after two weeks of slowing case counts.

"Frankly, the school district is not prepared to open up in an in-person situation, and it is unrealistic for anybody ... to demand that school districts do what is not realistic to do," HFT Executive Vice President Andy Dewey told reporters at a conference announcing the guidelines.

The recommendations, developed with the Houston Educational Support Personnel union and Community Voices for Public Education, were released two days ahead of HISD's July 15 goal to announce its plans for the 2020-21 school year. A reopening committee has been assisting in the development of internal guidelines.

"Our ultimate goal is to provide families with options so they can choose what works best-and what they feel is safest-for their children," the district wrote in a July 8 statement.

In order to provide adequate virtual learning to all students, the HFT said the district must commit to offering more devices; free, universal broadband internet access to families who cannot provide it themselves; and safe learning spaces for homeless students.

Advocates also called for budgets to be reallocated to hire more critical staff, including more bus drivers and custodial workers, and a nurse for each school.

The HFT's full recommendation report can be found here.

SEE RELATED STORY: School districts urged by health experts to discuss at-home learning options for the Fall

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