In a move aimed to address Houston’s growing battle with COVID-19 concerns, the Houston Independent School District has closed all district schools and facilities due to an increasing number of coronavirus cases in the city. Facilities will be closed from Wednesday, July 3 through Sunday, July 19, according to a statement.
In addition, all athletic practices are canceled. Students currently using HISD laptops will be allowed to keep them until the fall rather than return them to campus.
Meanwhile, the district will operate virtually and will continue to provide educational and related services. Employees will continue to practice social distancing and wear appropriate personal protective equipment in accordance with district policy and public health guidelines. The Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center will remain open for limited purposes.
For those in need, the Curbside Summer Meals program will continue to operate at designated sites under its current schedule. Bond school construction also will continue.
“These new measures are imperative for the health and safety of our students and staff. Every decision we make has them in mind,” HISD interim superintendent, Grenita Lathan, said in a statement. “I urge you all to please be safe in the coming weeks — stay home when you can, wash your hands, and wear a mask if you must go out.”
The district’s statement notes that most HISD employees have been working from home since, but some staff have been allowed to re-enter and complete necessary duties, such as registration, technology distribution, equipment inventory, and classroom space assessments.
The closures come as Harris County is under threat level red — the highest possible — for COVID-19, Houston’s COVID-19 positivity rate is now three times higher today than it was three months ago, and Medical Center ICUs are nearing capacity.