"Student absences were up," said House. "On Monday, we had about a 75%, a 75.5% attendance rate.”
Hundreds of teachers are out too as high school campuses, in particular, prepare for fall final exams, or mid-terms.
“I really wish that the district had not made the semester end after Christmas break,” said HISD biology teacher Sophia Castillo. "I don't know anyone who likes it."
Castillo is among numerous educators and students who’ve shared testing concerns with KHOU.
"Prior to last year, we did not do that," said Castillo. "We always ended before Christmas break.”
We checked with the next 10 largest area districts behind HISD.
"Typically, I think the preference among teachers and students is to have these exams before the break,” said University of Houston professor and former Spring Branch ISD superintendent Duncan Klussmann.
He said developing instructional calendars can be challenging, especially amid a pandemic.
And rarely is everyone satisfied.
"In the past, when these decisions were being made, sometimes people tried to push them a little further past the winter break so that students didn’t come back and take exams right away,” said Klussmann.
"It's really turned into an issue for high school," said Castillo
HISD issued this statement following our request for a response:
The exams are after the break because we try to balance the number of days in both semesters. HISD is prohibited by law from starting school prior to the 4th Monday in August. The district is in the process of planning the calendar for the coming school year and we will be reconsidering when the midterm exams are held in the future.