8 weeks of online learning? Harris County Judge asks school districts to not resume on-campus classes until October

HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is urging the superintendents of school districts within Harris County to keep the first eight weeks of the 2020-21 school year entirely virtual and not return to campus until at least October.

In the Monday letter, Hidalgo and Dr. Umair Shah of Harris County Public Health said the county is facing “an extremely challenging time” and continues to be at Threat Level 1 on the Harris County COVID-19 Threat Level System.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL: See KPRC 2′s full coverage of what Houston-area school districts have planned for reopening in 2020-21

The Texas Education Agency’s new guidelines, allow districts to continue virtual learning for the first eight weeks of the school year and county officials urged the superintendents to take that route.

Hidalgo and Shah detailed certain recommendations they believed school districts should act on. They are:

  • In-person, face-to-face instruction should not be made available for any grades (from Pre-K through Grade 12) until October 2020.
  • School boards should work with local and state governments and community partners to accommodate families who lack internet access or devices by providing the necessary tools to ensure access to remote learning
  • All school-sponsored events and activities, including but not limited to extracurriculars, fairs, exhibitions and academic and athletic competitions should not take place in-person or off-campus until the school systems resume on-campus learning
  • Schools should develop a written plan with safety and health protocols for resuming in-person instruction and extracurricular activities.

“We must come to grips with the fact that in order to learn and grow, students must be healthy and safe. That means not setting arbitrary dates for reopening schools that provide false hope, dates this virus does not recognize or respect. Instead, our focus should be on thresholds and on developing measured reopening plans,” Hidalgo said in a news release.

Read the full letter from Judge Lina Hidalgo below: