What happened? I could swear (if I were a swearing kind of guy) that I just attended my last graduation ceremony a couple of weeks ago. Yet students in Humble ISD headed back to class Aug. 10 and if you are an educator, you headed back even earlier. The early start means those participating fall athletics, which includes more than football, had their coaches and some student athletes heading back at the end of July (not counting the summer camps they attended). It’s not just athletics either. Many band directors and color guard instructors along with the students participating in half-time entertainment hit the fields the last week of July with 10 a.m.- 4p.m. daily schedules to have music and routines ready for fans.

If you are thinking schools are starting earlier, you are correct. Yes, there was a law passed in Texas (2006 to be exact) saying public schools can’t start before the fourth Monday of August … that would be Aug. 23 this year, but in 2015 the Texas Legislature inserted a loophole the size of a Texas Longhorn, giving school districts who are designated a “District of Innovation” the ability to sidestep a wide range of Texas Education Code rules. By the way, on Jan. 12, 2021, Humble ISD had their amended District Innovation Plan renewed for another five-year term.

Before everyone gets their knickers all twisted, there are some good reasons to resume classes earlier. While it may interfere with some vacation plans, it also means students have a shorter period to forget everything they learned last year. This is especially important for STEM classes. It also allows more students the ability to have one or two meals at school, which for some is their major source of sustenance for each day of the week. The earlier start allows parents to resume a more normal work schedule without trying to figure out who is going to watch the kiddos, which can help families budget wise. Starting earlier also allows for more and longer breaks during the school year. Humble ISD students and teachers have enjoyed their near monthly respites. Finally, to be honest, most kids spend a major part of their summer bored and asking, “What are we going to do today?” Those are just a few positives.

In reality, our current school year is very much based on an agrarian labor force society that does not exist over most of Texas. There are some, to be sure, but not for the majority of us who live in small and large cities. We do it this way because “we have always done it this way.” Regardless, I am thankful that we get to start school this year with a hint of normalcy for our students. It is more than a little stressful given most students do not yet qualify for a vaccine, so keep safe … hand hygiene, extra space between you and you have a choice to mask or not … there is no shame in wearing a mask (and NO ONE should be shamed for doing so … that’s bullying).

So, say a prayer for all the students and educators as they clear their minds and move from a school daze to days of school filled with learning and socially stimulating interaction with friends. Have a great year!

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