Houston ISD to begin school year Sept. 8 with six weeks of virtual instruction, 'grades will count'

Houston ISD says all students will begin the 2020-21 school year on September 8 with virtual instruction.

Virtual instruction for all students will continue for six weeks through October 16.

On October 19, face-to-face instruction for all students will begin, with an option to continue virtual learning. The district says this date is subject to change based on COVID-19 conditions across the city and recommendations from local, state, and federal health officials.

HISD says parents will have the option to opt out of face-to-face instruction entirely for the fall semester and school year.

Families will receive a call on August 24 to select either in-person or virtual learning for their child. Two weeks before the first day of in-person learning, families will be called to confirm their selection. Commitments must last through an entire six-weeks grading period.

Parents who choose the online-only will be required to attend a virtual class outlining expectations and sign an agreement committing to virtual learning.

"Grades will count. Attendance and participation is a must," said Grenita Lathan, Houston ISD Interim Superintendent at a press conference. 

According to HISD, when district schools open, safety protocols will include requiring all employees, students, and visitors to undergo entry screenings, wear face coverings, wash hands regularly and practice physical distancing. High-touch areas will be cleaned frequently. Nurses, custodial staff, food service workers and special education staff will be required to wear gloves.

HISD said teachers will report to work virtually on August 24. All other district employees will continue to work virtually and will be notified by their direct supervisor regarding the date they will be expected to return to the office.

The district says they will adopt flexible attendance policies so students and staff aren’t penalized for staying home when they are sick, have a sick family member, or have been exposed to someone outside the household who is sick.

Also, Houston ISD said the district remains committed to assisting all students in need of technology as they participate in virtual learning. Parents of students in need of a laptop or a hot spot, who have not yet received one from HISD, are asked to contact their school principal and let them know of any technology needs before the school year begins. 

More information on the district’s reopening can be found at https://www.houstonisd.org/Reopening