The September Humble ISD school board meeting was called to order after a day at home for most teachers, staff and students following the predicted path of Hurricane Nicholas.
The meeting was called to order with Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen began the September Humble ISD board meeting with a video featuring the new Guy M. Sconzo ECHS (Early College High School) campus. The video presentation featured students in an open house or tour format.
Several students spoke individually about all the exciting academic programs the new campus has to offer in the video. The events included Bridge Camp and the dedication of the campus scheduled for Sept. 18 from 2-4 p.m. Refer to humbleisd.net/sechs for additional details.
During the commendations section of the meeting, Shelton Ervin of Summer Creek High School football was named the 2021 USTFCCCA National High School Coach of the Year. His leadership has brought not one, but two state championships and the Summer Creek Bulldogs are currently the reigning 2021 Boys 6A UIL T and F State Champions.
In the middle of the meeting, it became apparent that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. All board members, teachers and staff came to the meeting wearing gold shirts in support of the “Gold, Fight, Win!” initiative, which began just a few years ago in honor of several residents and students.
Board member Chris Parker stated, “We have in our presence Ms. Kasey Davis, teacher and role model at Eagle Springs Elementary. In the early 1990s, Davis was diagnosed with pediatric cancer as a child. Davis endured 25 months of chemotherapy for Stage 4 lymphoma and she is a former graduate of our Kingwood High School.”
Parker brought Davis to the front of the boardroom, presented her with flowers and thanked her for sharing her story on an annual basis with the students of the district.
Jerri Monbaron, director of Community Development for Humble ISD, told the attendees about “Gold, Fight, Win.” “This is an organization that was brought about to raise awareness, improve education and raise funds to find a cure for pediatric cancer.”
The success of this organization is due in part to volunteers, local supporters and the partnership of three organizations, including Addi’s Faith Foundation (addisfaithfoundation.org), L3 Foundation (l3foundation.com), and Mothers Against Cancer (mothersagainstcancer.org).
Parent and local childhood cancer research advocate Scott Ahrendt added, “No child should endure what these kids or families have gone through. Let’s rally in their honor and continue their legacy. There are many events happening around town. Refer to goldfightwin.com/events for a list of events, including T-shirt pickup locations, pep rallies, volleyball and football games and more.”
During the time of public comment, several students and parents from Humble Parents Care expressed concern regarding the handling of COVID-19 mandates and protocols.
Ruth Ann Luna, Ph.D. spoke virtually about how she recommends that Humble ISD change the mask mandate verbiage to encourage parents to send their kids with masks.
“Perhaps just a few tweaks in the language that we use will impact parents in such a way that it encourages them to send masks for their children since they are continually in close proximity to each other,” she said.
Several additional parents came to the podium or commented virtually. Many of the parents came from the local group, Humble Parents Care. Refer to facebook.com/humbleparentscare for additional information.
Group member Erick Willing added, “COVID is here, it's spreading and it is not going away. It requires time and effort as well as more stringent policies. Keep in mind that 42% of our kids’ waking hours are spent in school. We need to pay closer attention to the handling of positive cases.”
More and more group members came to the podium to express concerns and even ideas on how they believe the spread of the virus can be lessened or mitigated. Stacie Smith stated, “We need to better respond to cases in our schools. The numbers are higher than before.”
Molly Ross continued similar sentiments by saying, “COVID disrupts education. Absences are up and we need a seamless transition from quarantine back to the classroom.”
Dr. Elizabeth Fagen thanked the speakers for their views and comments. She assured the attendees that the members of the board are continually following governmental and TEA orders as more and more variants pop up around the globe.
Fagen continued, “The face of the pandemic is continually changing. The challenges of last year are not the same as this year. The Alpha variant, for example, was found to be less transmissible among children.”
“I commend our board, teachers and staff for pivoting as mandates changed. We need to keep in mind that Houston is a global city. We need to remember that as we navigate the balance between mental health needs and the health information that is available.”
The district offers virtual stipends to teachers doing double work by teaching face-to-face as well as virtual. They have also expanded the reach of Chromebooks since there are approximately 1,800 virtual students throughout the district. In addition to these actions, PCR testing is also offered free to staff and they are given paid leave for COVID postpositive diagnosis. These actions and more help to encourage both students and staff to quarantine for the recommended time frames.
Finally, Humble ISD publishes an informative dashboard online. This page is updated daily by 7 a.m. and includes the number of students on-campus, total active cases for students and staff members and totals by campus. Refer to humbleisd.net/covid19dashboard for more details.