HOUSTON – Often absent during debate about when and how to reopen schools has been perspective from students themselves, according to an advisory body tasked with voicing the concerns of the Houston Independent School District’s student body.
“They’re definitely ways to do it without compromising the health of our students, our teachers and our staff,” said Jennifer Hamad, a senior at Heights High School.
Hamad serves as the speaker of HISD’s Student Congress, a body of over 70 high school student leaders from across the district, which serves as a bridge between students and the Board of Trustees.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan announced Wednesday the district’s plan for reopening: six weeks of at-home virtual learning through October.
“We were very happy with Dr. Lathan’s decision to do that,” Hamad said.
When and how to reopen HISD is the focus of a survey the student congress has administered. Their goal is to provide a voice for students in the reopening process.
Nearly 3,000 surveys have been completed since it went live last week, according to the student congress. The goal is to reach 10,000 respondents, Hamad said.
“A lot of kids didn’t feel like it was going to be the right environment to back and they already didn’t feel safe they were expressing that in March,” Hamad said.
The survey found a student’s need influences the decision of parents and students on whether they want to return to in-person instruction.
“The data that we’re gathering is very constant,” Hamad said. “When we did our statistical analysis we figured out that.. we realized that for families that don’t have access to technology, or childcare, or maybe don’t have meals at home, they’re more likely to send their kids to school.”
HISD’s Student Congress is pushing for laptops and hotspots for families without access to technology.
Hamad said other recommendations will be announced as the data is compiled, which she expects will continue through the fall.
“This is going to be something that’s going to continue until we have a vaccine or until we flatten this curve and so we to keep it open as long as we can and gather as much data.”