Not quite seven in 10 Humble ISD students plan to return to the classroom Aug. 11, according to a June 24 survey emailed by Humble ISD to all student parents or guardians.

The results were announced by Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen at the Humble ISD board’s July meeting.“As of July 14, with 38,179 responses, approximately 68.3 percent of our students plan to return to our classrooms on August 11,” Fagen said. “7.2 percent of our students plan to learn online and participate in UIL activities. And 24.5 percent of our students plan to learn strictly online.” With 31.7 percent of students currently selecting online learning, Humble ISD will have reduced numbers in their buildings and in their classroom, she reported.

“This creates greater opportunities for social distancing,” she said. In a conversation with The Tribune, Fagen said approximately 63 to 64 percent of middle and high school students chose to return to school.

“I’ve received just a handful of emails from parents,” Fagen told The Tribune. “The comments have been mixed and exactly what you’d expect. A few want to change the choice they made. Of course, they can do that. Others expressed hope that everyone wears a mask. Well, at this time, Gov. Abbott is requiring that.” “It is obvious parents are paying attention to the health data,” she said, “Many commented on feeling positive about their kids going back. They believe students need social interaction with their peers and the teachers and are missing their friends.”

Other parents commented on not being comfortable with their children returning to school. “We’re trying to meet the needs of every one of those different groups,” she said.

Based on the latest guidance from Texas Education Agency, Abbott and Humble ISD parents, the district developed three options for parents:

  • On-Campus Instruction (For secondary schools, students would likely begin the year with blended learning, participating both on-campus and online on an A/B daily schedule. Details for elementary and secondary schools are posted in the On-Campus FAQ section below.)

  • Online Instruction (asynchronous learning - students are not always online at the same time; Humble ISD teachers post instructional plans/learning sets, teaching in large groups, small groups and individually)

  • Online Instruction / UIL Athletics and Fine Arts On Campus (middle and high school students)

Now that the parents and guardians have been heard from, the district plans to “…stick with these three options,” Fagen said. “We’ve done so many scenarios about bringing kids back to school. These are the three options we can successfully plan for. Each parent or guardian’s reservation or selection are shared with the student’s school, according to the district’s “Back to School 2020” website. “If your circumstances change, there will be a process to change options before or during the school year,” the website promises.

In addition to meeting the needs of the students and parents, the district has put considerable effort into meeting the needs of the staff as well. “We’ve personalized each classroom, each teacher’s needs,” Dr. Fagen told The Tribune. “Some teachers want a lot of Plexiglas. Campus principals are handling the individual teacher requests so that we can provide all the protective equipment that a teacher requests. We’ve also reduced the number of students in each class to provide for social distancing.”

Fagen praised the district’s teachers who attended a recent professional development program on teaching in the age of a pandemic. “I’m told 11,000 professional development seats were taken by our staff in the training program. Our teachers are the best,” she said. She also praised the district’s health services department which monitors “…the health care side of our guidelines that are coming from TEA, the UIL and the governor’s office,” Fagen said. 

If changes are made to the district's Back to School 2020 Plan, they will be made by Aug. 1, she said, assuring students, staff, and parents that everything will be in place when school begins August 11. Fagen told The Tribune that the district is working hard to make all the modifications that teachers request, keeping students and staff safe and, at the same time, offer an excellent educational experience. “We want the best for our students and staff, and we want to meet the individual needs of both,” Fagen said. “We’re matching kids who want to learn online with teachers who want to teach online, and kids who want to be on campus with teachers who want to be on campus.”

“We know that there is a benefit to being on campus. Social interaction with teachers and their peers,” she said. “Our youngest students learn to read much better with a teacher in the same room, for example.” The Humble ISD “Back to School 2020 Plan” website includes a “Frequently Asked Questions” section for each choice, -- On-Campus Instruction, Online Instruction, and Online Instruction/On Campus Athletics and Fine Arts for middle and high school students.

“We know you have many questions…community health data is quickly changing, and we are constantly monitoring it,” the website states. “We want to bring preliminary plans forward with the understanding that, as we get closer to August, they could change.”

 

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.

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