Houston ISD: What you need to know about the district’s 2020-2021 school plans

Houston ISD has announced it is delaying the start of the school year and will begin entirely online.

The first day of school was previously scheduled for August 24.

Virtual instruction for the district begins on September 8 and will continue for six weeks through October 16. Students will not be welcomed back to campus until late October.

Here’s what to know so far:


The first day of school has been postponed to September 8, 2020.

Houston ISD plans to offer face-to-face instruction for all students beginning October 19.

Click here to view the updated calendar for the 2020-21 school year.

Measures underway or being considered

School Entry Screening Protocols

  • All will be asked if they are experiencing any symptoms. Those who respond ‘yes’ will be isolated, sent home, and referred to medical care, if needed. Those who respond ‘no’ will be forwarded to temperature screening.
  • All who are not experiencing symptoms and meet temperature screening standards (under 100 degrees) will be allowed entry.

Specific to Students:

  • Schools will establish staggered, no-contact pick-up and drop-off times, requiring students to get in and out of cars independently and preventing parents from walking students into the building.
  • Families will be encouraged to assign one person who is not high risk to consistently pick-up and drop-off their student each day.
  • Schools will no longer incentivize perfect attendance.

Specific to Employees:

  • HISD employees also will be required to submit to their supervisor every Monday a completed COVID-19 Employee Health and Wellness Questionnaire certifying it is safe for them to be at work.

Specific to Visitors:

  • Visitation will be limited to essential visitors who have previously scheduled appointments. All visitors must wear masks when inside an HISD school or building.
  • Non-essential visitors should utilize virtual meetings, when possible. Lunch visits are prohibited.
  • Non-essential deliveries — such as food, personal items, homework, musical instruments — are prohibited.

Physical Distancing Protocols

  • Classrooms and office spaces will be reconfigured to ensure six feet of space between desks.
  • Physical distancing signage and floor markers will be installed throughout buildings as a reminder.
  • Student movement throughout the campus will be minimized as much as possible to reduce contacts.
  • Students and staff will be encouraged to use no touch greetings.
  • Breakrooms and copy rooms also are limited to three people and employees are prohibited from loitering in these areas and required to sanitize their hands upon entry and exit.
  • Elevator capacity also will be limited to three people.
  • All meetings should be held virtually unless a face-to-face meeting is absolutely required. In such cases, the meetings must be held in designated conference rooms, scheduled in advance, and limited to 10 people, all of whom must adhere to social distancing.

PPE Protocols

  • Masks will be provided to students, employees, and visitors if they do not have one. Acceptable masks include both district-issued and personal masks, including face shields, disposable masks, homemade masks, handkerchiefs, and scarves. Bandanas are not allowed.
  • Personal reusable masks must meet Code of Student Conduct requirements and not be inappropriate or derogatory in nature.
  • Mask guidelines — including proper mask use and handling — will be communicated to parents, students, and employees, and schools will set aside instructional time to train students.
  • Non-campus employees must wear masks at all times when outside their personal office space, in common areas, or when unable to maintain 6 feet of distance from other people.
  • Masks can only be removed when non-campus employees are sitting in their personal cubicle or office and at least 6 feet away from anyone else.

Hygiene Protocols

  • All individuals must routinely wash and sanitize their hands using either soap or hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Hands must be washed for at least 20 seconds.
  • Students and staff must cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, throw used tissues in the trash, and then wash hands immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Students and employees are prohibited from sharing materials, supplies, equipment and other items, unless absolutely necessary. This includes pencils, markers, books, dictionaries, library books, scissors, and other supplies. If sharing is absolutely required, items must be sanitized by both the recipient and lender.

Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols

  • Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations employees will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding the cleaning, sanitation, and disinfection of all district facilities.
  • High-touch areas — such as restrooms, main offices, early childhood classrooms, and employee sign-in/ sign-out areas — and will be identified and cleaned more frequently.
  • All schools and offices will be provided with enough hand soap, paper towels, tissues, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant to accommodate frequent cleaning of high touch areas, and stock will be replenished regularly or upon request. In classrooms, teachers must ensure all shared items are sanitized between uses.

Infection Protocols

Should a student or employee become ill while at an HISD school or building, administrators will follow the protocols:

  • Immediately notify school nurse (for students) or department supervisor (for employees) to report exposure, suspected, or confirmed positive COVID-19.
  • Require School Nurse to contact student/employee to investigate, complete COVID-19 Case Report Form, and submit to Health and Medical Services Nurse Manager.
  • Require department supervisor to contact Health and Medical Services director or school nurse manager and provide employee’s name, date of birth, and contact information.

Instruction methods offered

Houston ISD plans to offer both face-to-face and virtual instruction for the upcoming school year.

The district will start entirely online beginning September 8. Due to the delayed start, the fall semester will run through January 29.


Virtual instruction will begin for all students on September 8 and continue for six weeks through October 16.

HISD will provide students with technology needed to participate in virtual learning.

All HISD Families are encouraged to contact their school if they are in need of technology.

Here is what virtual learning will look like:

  • Asynchronous instruction model does not require real-time interaction
  • Technology drives communication and instruction
  • Governed by HISD Instructional Continuity Plan approved by Texas Education Agency

Parents will have the option for their child(ren) to continue participating in online learning beyond the first six weeks.

Parents choosing this option must attend a virtual class outlining expectations and sign an agreement committing to virtual learning for the semester.


Houston ISD plans to offer face-to-face instruction for all students beginning October 19.

Here is what face-to-face learning will look like:

  • Traditional face-to-face classroom instruction during school day
  • Technology supports learning
  • Governed by Texas Education Agency and HISD policies

Recent updates

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