Losing Weeks of Learning

The end of the school year isn’t here yet, but thousands of children remain out of the classroom because of the swine flu risks on their campuses. And that means they either get shortchanged on teaching this year or get stuck in school into the summer.
Laurie Johnson has more.

Across the state, nearly 500 campuses are closed and 412,000 students are out of school — all of it related to swine flu.

Texas Education Agency Spokesperson Debbie Ratcliffe says although some other parts of the state have closed more schools — the Houston area has had the roughest school year over all.

“I think your guys are going to be the most difficult situation because they have the potential to have their school year shortened by you know possibly a month this year, between the hurricane and the floods and now the flu.”

The handful of campuses closed in this region still represent several hundred kids who are missing out on days and even weeks of class instruction. By law, the school year has to be 180 days long.

“But in extraordinary circumstances like your area’s had a couple of times this year, districts can ask us for waivers. And that would mean that they wouldn’t have to make up the days. It’s not automatic; they’ve got to request the waiver; and I would anticipate that most of the districts closed because of the H1N1 virus will ask for the waiver.”

HISD officials would not comment on the exact plans for the district, but did indicate they will likely ask for waivers from the state instead of extending the school year.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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