Almost a year after the original shutdown due to COVID-19, Humble ISD decided to take closing schools off the table. At the regular January school board meeting, the trustees voted for a new matrix that would in effect remove the possibility of schools within the district closing for coronavirus caution reasons.
According to Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen, the matrix was updated because of a better understanding of the data and more data that has been studied since the genesis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fagen said originally an A/B schedule and school closures were listed to relieve the load hospitals were enduring at the beginning when everything was still new and unpredictable.
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Fagen requested the trustees to “remove district closure or schedule modification (A/B) from the matrix as we do not believe classroom spread will impact our hospitals in a way that would require us to deny our students access to campus.”
Trustee Lori Twomey added that the data she has noticed showed that students are actually healthier when school is in session, and that most of the spread has happened during breaks from school; the opposite of what was thought to be a year ago.
Another statistic that played a role in the decision, according to Fagen, is that 95% of people listed as close contacts to people who contracted COVID-19 did not test positive themselves. This data gives confidence that the risk of spreading the virus is lesser than the other risks that the district observed for the children and staff at Humble ISD.
Fagen said the district is “keenly focused on what is best for students” and feels that mental health, quality of education, and consistency of learning are important. Although school closures and the A/B schedule were taken off the matrix, the district is increasing the number of substitute teachers districtwide to help the points previously mentioned.
“We have been focused on the substitute issue,” said Fagen. “We have added 50 new [substitute teachers] in the last month.”
According to Fagen, there were more than 300 applications received and being reviewed for substitutes and the district currently has approximately 1,000 substitutes. The district also changed the qualifications for becoming a substitute and increased incentives to attract more for the position.
Despite the decisions that were made, some community concerns were not addressed, namely the request by multiple people to make masks mandated for children under the age of 11. The district chose to stick with the order from Governor Greg Abbott.
During the meeting, the trustees voted to name Elementary No. 30. Autumn Creek Elementary will be the name for the new school, led by Principal Paul Edwards. Follow Autumn Creek Elementary on Twitter @HumbleISD_ACE for more updates from Edwards.
Humble ISD Chief Financial Officer Mike Seale announced his retirement and received a standing ovation during the meeting for his service to the district.
Board President Robert Sitton announced and reminded the community of a workshop Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. It will be held at the administration building and live streamed for anyone who would like to attend. The workshop will be discussing all of the projects for Bond 2018.
Just before the workshop, the superintendent evaluation will be held. For more information on Humble ISD, go to their website, humbleisd.net.