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HISD will offer only online learning when school begins on Sept. 8

The Houston Independent School District said in-person learning will not be an option for at least the first six weeks of school.

HOUSTON — All HISD students will begin the school year virtually on Tuesday, Sept. 8, the district announced Wednesday. Virtual instruction will continue for at least six weeks through Friday, October 16.

"Attendance and participation during virtual learning are a must and all grades will count," HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said during a news conference

Under the plan, face-to-face instruction for all students will begin on Monday, October 19. This date is subject to change based on COVID-19 conditions across the City of Houston and recommendations from local, state, and federal health officials.

Parents not comfortable with sending their children back to school will have the option to opt out of face-to-face instruction entirely for the fall semester and school year.

"I need our children to be safe," Latham said. "We will not put the health of our students and staff at risk."

RELATED: Texas will extend time that schools will be allowed to stay online-only, Gov. Greg Abbott says

RELATED: Texas classrooms can stay closed this fall without losing state funding if local health officials order it

Here's the guide in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Arabic:

"The Houston Independent School District has developed a plan to deliver quality education during the upcoming 2020-2021 school year while ensuring the health and safety of our students, families and staff," the district said on its website.

Once the transition to face-to-face instruction begins, all HISD students and employees will be screened before entering any HISD building. 

They will also be required to wear appropriate masks, hand-wash routinely, and adhere to physical distancing requirements. Additionally, it will be mandatory for nurses, custodial staff, food service workers, and special education staff to wear gloves. More details on HISD reopening plan

RELATED: Houston-area school districts reveal reopening plans amid COVID-19 pandemic

RELATED: Union leader: Most Houston school bus drivers aren't coming back to work during coronavirus pandemic

Many other Houston-area public school districts are offering a choice between in-person and online learning, based on TEA mandates and threats to cut funding. 

But Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott  said school districts will have more flexibility to delay in-person instruction without losing funding. He is expected to announce details of the extension soon.

Some federal and state leaders continue to push the need for in-person classes as a way to get back to some sense of normalcy, even as cases rise in many states, including Texas. 

But unions representing Houston teachers and support staff argue that students should stay home until COVID-19 cases decline steadily for at least two weeks.

Until then, they say learning in person isn’t safe, even with safety measures in place.


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