After a lot of talk about the possibility of moving to an 11-month academic calendar, the Houston ISD administration turned thumbs down on the idea Thursday and announced to parents it was sticking with the usual school year that starts in late August and runs until late May .
So when the kids return to classes in whatever form they take — at this point optimistically scheduled for August 24 — they will have a whole lot of catching up to do in a shorter time frame than what was briefly considered after COVID-19 closed the schools and sent students home.
According to a statement from HISD, it is the continuing uncertainty about COVID-19 and the rise in cases that convinced them it would be better to push the start date back as late as possible. However, there will be academic boot camps offered in August and during the Thanksgiving, Winter and Spring breaks for students who the district thinks may have fallen behind after the suspension of in-person classes.
Also, some parents told the district that the kind of week-long breaks distributed through the school year that are part and parcel of a year-round school plan would be difficult for them to handle.
As part of the press statement, Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathanm said:
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“I want to thank all students, parents, and stakeholders who participated in the decision-making process by providing their feedback. We find ourselves in the midst of unprecedented uncertainty, and the diverse voices in our communities are important to us as we make critical decisions regarding the 2020-21 school year.”
In another statement, HISD said it is waiting on details from the state about reopening guidelines.
We have been considering three options: in-person instruction, distance learning, or a “hybrid model” which combines both in-person and distance learning.
The district has formed a taskforce called the HISD Communicable Disease Plan Committee made up of employees, educators, parents, and health care officials. The group has been charged with gathering, reviewing, and discussing guidance from local, state, and federal health and education officials and providing recommendations for a reopening plan that prioritizes the safety of students, staff, and the community.
HISD has also launched a teacher and parent survey to gather feedback on the reopening of schools. The surveys can be found at www.houstonisd.org/ParentSurvey and www.houstonisd.org/TeacherSurvey. It will be open for responses until July 2.