The surge of concern and questions for HISD’s re-opening plan

The+surge+of+concern+and+questions+for+HISD%27s+re-opening+plan

The 2020-2021 school year will certainly make the history books. One dominated by masks and anti-bacterial products. One dominated through the video communications of Zoom and Microsoft Teams. One dominated by the enthusiasm of faculty and staff. And the power of Wi-Fi. Students who have been immersed in their own homes as their own schools.

Westside High School, the once bustling building of arguing debate students, echoes of instruments and singing performances from the band hall, the marches of the JROTC, pacing of the sports team players, and the overall chattering that beamed liveliness and school spirit.

How would students, faculty, and staff be able to transition and build this vibrant, diversified community as it once was? Specifically, the schools of the Houston Independent School District, the largest public school district in Texas. Well, we can model this return from Katy Independent School District’s announcements of their own plans.

Dr. Ken Gregorski, the superintendent of Katy ISD, has made a public announcement declaring their policies for the next school year at https://katyisd.org/Pages/default.aspx. Their plan is essentially returning to a complete normal school operation on June 1 with the expiration of the TEA guidelines. These policies include:

  • Students and staff will not have to wear protective facial coverings.
  • Daily COVID-19 notifications will not occur.
  • The Katy Virtual Academy will come to an end.
  • Campuses will be welcoming back all parents and volunteers that will begin planning for the 2021-2022 school year.

HISD has yet to release any form of policy update of the next school year, besides an updated calendar. With the contributive factor of the lack of leadership as the district’s superintendent, Grenita Lathan, had left, this may leave a gap in their planning.

It is unknown how HISD’s approach to the next school year will be. Will they follow the very direct outline of Katy ISD’s concept? Or will they develop a more concise transition to that point? Much of the faculty, staff, parents, and students have many questions to the district’s response. This ranges from:

  • Will there be a combination of virtual schooling and in-person schooling?
  • Will there still be some form of safety precaution or mandate policies in schools to follow? For both students and teachers? This includes the mask mandate, social distancing, vaccinations, and cleansing.
    • Will teachers be able to mandate their own policies for the sake of their own comfort?
    • Will volunteers, parents, and other visitors be able to go on school campuses?
    • Will organizations, clubs, sports events, and other activities be able to resume without a necessary safety precaution?
  • Will traditional schooling be a transitional process or automatic like Katy ISD’s schooling?
    • Would there be steps or goals to reach before returning to traditional school entirely?

Nonetheless, Houston Independent School District must listen to the voices of their students, families, faculty, and staff to make the best plan of action in returning to a more “normal” school year. It will certainly not be easy without a superintendent to guide the district. However, HISD remains to continuously prevail in these harsh circumstances to provide to their own.