Chambers county, Barbers Hill ISD at odds regarding the district’s reopening plan

MONT BELVIEU – David Lothridge of Mont Belvieu represents many if not the majority of the parents in Barbers Hill Independent School District. He said the children need to be back in school.

Nearly every parent with children in the district that KPRC 2 came across Thursday was in favor of sending kids back to school for in-person instruction with no delays.

"You can learn more in class than on the computer," Lothridge added.

Other parents agreed.

"In-person learning is a lot better, it's more disciplined," said Kendra Eyth. "I feel like they get more out of it. At home, it's difficult."

“I think that it is good to be in-person,” said Kinsey Spiegelhauer.

Many parents are comfortable with the in-person option but the issue is causing tension between the superintendent and the Chambers County Public Health Department.

The department on Wednesday posted a letter saying it had "urged" local school boards to "take further action to protect their staff and students by delaying in-person instruction until September 8th at the earliest."

Classes are scheduled to begin August 19 with parents having the option of starting kids online or at home, per TEA guidelines.

“With them giving the option to home school or send the kids to school, I think that eliminates a lot of the number of kids in school, which makes it easier for them to social distance,” said Eyth.

The health department’s request for an in-person delay drew a fiery response in this letter from Barbers Hill Superintendent Dr. Greg Poole.

Poole said Chambers County Health Authority Dr. W. Clay Brown is basing his suggestions on “hunches” and “offers no data to back up this claim,” referring to Brown’s assertion that planned measures likely will not be enough.

Poole also added the county’s letter amounts to “fear-mongering.”

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