HOUSTON – Houston Independent School District will begin the fall semester with all students learning virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic. Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said the decision came down to concerns parents and teachers expressed in district-wide surveys.
“Twenty-one percent of parents said they would be comfortable for in person. More than 50% said virtual only,” Lathan said. “Only 14% of teachers, who responded, said they were ready to physically get back to class.”
With the virtual start for HISD, the state’s largest district, providing the technology tools to students who needed them will be a challenge.
Lathan said Wednesday that 70% of HISD families have no internet or unreliable internet while 52% say they’re in need of tech devices like hot spots, iPads and Chromebooks.
Comp-U-Dopt, a non-profit that provides free, refurbished computers to those who need them, is one of the many organizations seeking to assist HISD families.
“We partnered with HISD and other school districts this summer to get out as many as we can before the start of school,” said Executive Director Colin Dempsey. “So hopefully with this delay we can get more computers out and get more kids set up for success.”
HISD also plans to phase-in students to in-class and face-to-face instruction beginning in October. However, transportation will only be provided for particular students at the start.
HISD will open a hotline starting August 3 to answer parent’s questions at 713-556-4636. The district said operators will be available in multiple languages.