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'I have to calm myself down everyday' | HISD teachers concerned about returning to campuses

HISD stands to lose state funding if in-person instruction doesn't resume soon.

HOUSTON — Houston ISD’s board of trustees got an earful Thursday night from concerned teachers.

Many want another delay in on-campus learning.

“I do not want to lose my child," said one teacher during the virtual meeting. "Nor do I want to make him an orphan.”

“I definitely feel like we need to extend this re-opening date,” said another teacher.

Red Elementary math lab specialist Dr. Maxie Hollingsworth said she feels face-to-face learning is ideal. But she shared apprehensions about returning to physical schools.

Although HISD may be the last area district to do so.

"Intensive teaching, I’m down for that, I’m here for it, I signed up for that," Hollingsworth said. "What I didn’t sign up for was coming to work in a pandemic and putting myself at risk, putting students at risk, putting my coworkers at risk and putting my kids at risk.”

Right now, HISD is set to resume in-person instruction, in phases, on Oct. 19.

But it has the option of extending online learning by another two weeks, through Oct. 30.

Anything beyond that would require TEA approval or jeopardize funding.

"It is the understanding of TEA that districts offer face-to-face instruction and move back towards face-to-face,” said HISD superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan during the meeting.

Trustee Wanda Adams said she's heard from parents and teachers who are eager to get back in the classroom.

"We've received emails across the board from a variety of teachers,” said Adams.

Adams said many of them are ready to return to campuses because online-only instruction may be leaving lots of children behind.

And although concerns are considered, losing state funding is not an option.

“We can’t afford to do that," said Adams. "No district in the state of Texas can afford to do that. ... And TEA did send out the guidelines.”

Hollingsworth bought coveralls and other safety gear to help protect herself upon her return, although she’d like online learning to last for the rest of the year.

"I have to calm myself down everyday," she said. "I think about what’s happening.”

To read more about HISD's reopening plan, CLICK HERE