Education News

For Families Who Choose In-Person Learning, Humble Schools Reopen Classrooms

Harris County health authorities reiterated last week that current indicators for COVID-19 mean it’s not safe to resume in-person activities.

The number of students reporting a violent injury increased over time, with 49% of 10th graders reporting having sustained a violent injury over the past 12 months.

Students in Humble public schools who’ve signed up to learn in person will start to return to their classrooms this week, making the Humble Independent School District one of the first in the region to reopen brick-and-mortar classrooms and buck Harris County’s health guidelines.

Harris County health authorities reiterated last week that the current conditions for COVID-19 in the region indicate it’s not safe for in-person activities, after 10 superintendents in the region, including Humble’s schools chief, wrote a letter protesting the county’s roadmap to reopen schools as harmful to children and an attempt to keep classrooms closed indefinitely.

The county’s recommendations are non-binding, and the Humble district’s back-to-school plan puts that in sharp relief.

Starting Monday in the suburban district in Northeast Harris County, families can choose to send their elementary students back to campus. Middle and high schoolers can also transition to an on-campus schedule if families choose.

In a letter this summer to parents, Humble Superintendent Liz Fagen wrote the district is focused on what is “best for our students and our staff.”

“I do worry that five to seven months away from school is, and has been, a very long time for our students, and I know that we have staff who are eager and/or willing to return to face-to-face instruction. It seems those folks are a match and should be allowed to move forward cautiously,” Fagen said. “I believe that for healthy individuals we can offer a safe return to school. Again the definition of healthy is between you and your healthcare providers.”

Children over 10 years old will have to wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible. Parent Ryan Cotten told Houston Public Media earlier this month that he believes those and other safety precautions will limit the coronavirus risk for his three children in elementary, middle and high school in Humble.

We’ve actually asked them if they were okay to go to school, you know, with masks,” Cotten said. “They felt like they would be safe and it would allow them opportunity to have that social interaction, the in-person class experience.”

Humble ISD enrolls more than 40,000 students and is considered one of the fastest growing districts in Texas.

IDEA Public Schools, a network of charter schools, has also started in-person classes for students who choose that option in Greater Houston.

"In-person activities for schools are indeed valuable for the social fabric of children and communities," Harris County Drs Umair Shah and Elizabeth Perez told superintendents in a letter last week. "Data and evidence remain the cornerstone of decision making."

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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