HOUSTON – The Houston Independent School District Board of Education approved a $54.6 million amendment the FY-2020-21 budget that included appropriating $31 million towards buying laptops and hotspots for students in need to help bridge the digital divide.
With classes scheduled to begin on Sept. 8 with 100% virtual instruction, the board also funneled funds towards purchasing technology, additional special education positions, personal protective equipment, social distancing signage, plexiglass dividers for classrooms and instructional supports.
About 75% of the students enrolled in HISD are economically disadvantaged, according to data from Operation Connectivity, a joint effort by Gov. Greg Abbott’s Office, the Texas Education Agency and the Dallas Independent School District.
So far, the district has provided 76,362 devices for students in need since the pandemic and plans to distribute 22,750 additional devices by next month, officials wrote in a press release. They have also provided 6,628 hotspots for students in need and plan to distribute 19,000 more wireless devices by next month.
Academic calendar changes
The board also voted unanimously to update the 2020-21 academic calendar due to the delayed start to the school year that became necessary due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“All previously approved holidays and the number of teacher preparation and professional development days are maintained in the proposed new calendar,” officials wrote in the release. These are the date changes the board approved:
- Teachers’ first day – virtual professional development and in-service: Aug. 24, 2020
- Teachers’ first day - virtual instruction: Sept. 8, 2020
- Students’ first day - virtual instruction: Sept. 8, 2020
- First day of in-person school: Oct. 19, 2020
- Thanksgiving holiday: Nov. 23-27, 2020
- Winter Break: Dec. 21, 2020 - Jan. 1, 2021
- Last day of first semester: Jan. 29, 2021
- First day of second semester: Feb. 1, 2021
- Spring Break: March 15-19, 2021
- Last day of school for students: June 11, 2021