Education News

Houston Schools Can Require Students Struggling Online To Return In Person

The option to deny virtual instruction is a measure that the Texas Education Agency gave school districts last fall.

Elementary school age boy wears a mask and logs onto his online class on a laptop.
HISD resumed face-to-face instruction for families who don’t opt out in October.

Houston students who are struggling in online classes may soon be required to return to in-person learning, according to a notice sent to principals this week.

In the Jan. 4 memo, administrators with the Houston Independent School District told principals that they can stop remote learning for students who’ve had three or more unexcused absences in a grading period or who have an average grade of 70 or below in their classes.

If campuses choose to require those students to return to face-to-face instruction, they have to give their families a two-week notice.

The option to deny virtual instrution is a measure that the Texas Education Agency gave school districts last fall.

So far HISD has not used it, though the Pasadena Independent School District moved to stop virtual instruction for struggling students in December.

Families who don’t want their children to return to in-person learning have an option to appeal a notice, or submit a medical exemption.

The change for Houston schools comes as the region is grappling with a surge in the coronavirus.

This week, the Houston area surpassed a critical threshold set by Gov. Greg Abbott that would tighten COVID-19 restrictions across the region.

COVID-19 patients have made up 15% or more of the surrounding hospital capacity for seven days.

That automatically triggers restrictions, under Abbott’s orders, includingi the closure of all bars and limiting restaurant capacity to 50%.

HISD did not respond to a request for comment.

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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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