Another adjustment in the Humble ISD school schedule will allow all students who opt to attend face-to-face learning to return to school full time immediately.
At the September school board meeting, a motion “to adopt a modified schedule for the return to in-person instruction as stated in this item, require all students and staff to wear face coverings at the secondary campuses if all students are permitted to return to in-person instruction (who selected in-person instruction), and delegate authority to the superintendent to modify this schedule in the event of changing community health conditions” passed by a vote of 6:1 with Trustee Martina Lemond Dixon opposing the motion.
Last month, the board approved a schedule that transitioned students up to eighth grade to return full time in mid-October and high school to remain on an A/B schedule until further notice. Last week’s motion expanded the full-time, face-to-face learning to include high school students and also shortened the timeline to Sept. 21.
Trustee Lori Twomey spoke in detail about an issue she had with the previous data that had been reported. “Those people that know me know that I am a numbers person, I am a data junkie,” Twomey said. “I got to a point where the data didn’t make sense. The unease that it put inside of me sent me on a journey.”
Twomey said she consulted with health authorities and data experts to get some clarity on the reports “in an effort to understand our current landscape and its challenges.”
According to Twomey, what she discovered in her research was that “Prior to Aug. 1, the data system being used by the Texas Department of State Health Services could not keep up with volume of testing that was being done in Texas.” This created a back log that continued to grow and eventually was released but was reported as new data instead of being reported as back data from previous months. Twomey said the back log had grown to well over 1 million cases or tests that was finally cleared on Aug. 1.
“Unfortunately,” Twomey said, “Harris County and the City of Houston made the decision to record these newly backlogged cases on the day that they received them, not on the date the positive test was taken. This is now causing a dramatic overinflation of positive cases.”
Twomey shared that Harris County and the City of Houston continue to report inflated numbers without being truthful about how many of the reported cases are more than 30 days old. Twomey agrees that the decisions brought before the school board should be based on data but made the distinction that they need reliable data so that they can make the best decision possible.
Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen presented the most recent statistics and data to the board during the meeting, which Humble ISD has shared on their website under the COVID-19 Dashboard. The rubric used to decide if and when the district would open at full capacity is broken down into three zones; red, yellow and green. The measurements include percent testing positive in the Greater Houston area, Texas Medical Center Hospital bed capacity, HCA and MHNE COVID hospitalizations, Humble ISD active cases, Humble ISD community active cases by ZIP codes, and Humble ISD community active cases total for ages 0-9 years old. As of Sept. 7, five of the six categories listed reported numbers in the green zone and one in yellow (percent in Greater Houston at 8%).
The approved motion gives Fagen authority to change the schedule for emergency situations based on the data and rubric, but a planned change would require calling a special meeting with public notice.
A motion “to approve Humble ISD’s asynchronous learning plan and delegate authority to the superintendent as indicated in this agenda item” was also passed with support from six of the seven trustees and Dixon abstaining. The motion approves an asynchronous learning plan for full virtual students learning remotely and allows them to have access to materials, resources and class time in a way that can be flexible for the students’ needs.
The plan is broken into elementary and secondary plans. For elementary, it states, “Because Humble ISD is implementing an asynchronous learning plan, learning opportunities will be recorded for students to engage on their schedule, with the expectation that they are putting in a minimum of 180 minutes per day.” For secondary, it states, “All students will engage in a minimum of 240 minutes of activities of asynchronous instruction every day when school is in session. Live learning opportunities may be offered to students as an option. However, these sessions will be recorded and made available to students, so they can engage in the learning throughout the day.” The full plan can be found on the Humble ISD website.
The Humble ISD Education Foundation presented their annual report for the 2019-2020 school year. India Loth, outgoing chairperson, reported that in fall of 2019, the foundation raised $343,000 through the employee campaign. According to Loth, when it was time to deliver and announce the recipients of the grants and scholarships, they implemented a new way.
“We had to take a different approach and have an asynchronous prize posse,” Loth said. “We sent the grants to the principals and asked them to be our prize posse and deliver them to the winning teachers on their campuses. Over $200,000 was awarded in that one day.”
Loth shared that the total awarded prizes were $848,100 last year. The Humble ISD Education Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was created in 1999 by concerned community members who wanted to support innovative educational programs.
When teachers have exciting ideas that will expand their students' minds and lead to increased achievement, they often find themselves without the resources to bring these visions to life. That’s where the foundation comes in, to fund projects and initiative that fall outside the scope of the district's normal operating budget. The foundation has made hundreds of these creative ideas a reality through the generous support of community donors, including teachers, school district staff and parents.
Also presented during the September school board meeting were the updated plans and recommendations for zoning and attendance for Lakeland Elementary and Elementary No. 30. Lakeland Elementary is scheduled to open in August 2021 with an anticipated student capacity of 950 students. The board passed a motion to approve Option C, which estimates approximately 880 students attending Lakeland, 750 attending Fields Elementary, and 730 attending River Pines Elementary.
Given the anticipated student growth for Fall Creek and Ridge Creek elementary schools, the board had previously approved the purchase of approximately 15 acres for Elementary School No. 30, located off the Fall Creek Preserve near the intersection of Woodland Dawn and Aspen Falls Lane.
Elementary School No. 30 is scheduled to open in August 2021 with an anticipated student capacity of 950 students. The board passed a motion to approve Option B, which estimates approximately 800 students attending Elementary School No. 30, 740 attending Ridge Creek Elementary, and 670 attending Fall Creek Elementary. Full plans and zoning of neighborhoods can be found on the district website.