school's still in

Houston Independent School District in-person classes remain open despite rising COVID cases

HISD in-person classes remain open despite rising COVID-19 cases

Students in a school classroom
Under the old rule, HISD classes would be online-only. Photo by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

The Houston Independent School District just announced a change to its COVID-19 policy that adjusts the protocol for schools closing due to positivity rates.

Under the new changes announced Monday, October 26, the district will keep schools open for in-person learning. If they were still operating under the old rules, they would be going back to virtual learning as positivity rates rise in Houston.

When the district laid out their reopening plans at the beginning of the year, they stated that everything would go virtual if Harris County's COVID-19 positivity rate averaged more than 7 percent over a 14-day period.

As of October 27, the Harris County COVID-19 dashboard shows the average positivity rate for the past 14 days is at 7.6 percent, meaning under the old rules, the schools would've gone virtual.

Instead, the district says they are working closely with multiple health departments to gather up as much data as possible in order to help guide their future decisions about student and staff safety.

They say the bottom line is they are keeping in-person learning going.

Mayor Sylvester Turner spoke about the increase in COVID-19 positive cases at a press conference.

"Right now we're trying to stay ahead, and that's why we encouraging people to recognize what's taking place in other parts of the country, as well as in West Texas, and seeing how the virus is heading in this direction," Turner said.

The mayor was referring to El Paso, where residents were placed on curfew after the county has seen a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the area have spiked from 259 to 786 in less than three weeks—  a 300 percent increase, according to Angela Mora, the director of the El Paso Public Health Department. And over the past 14 days, El Paso County has seen nearly 10,000 cases, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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For more on this story, including video, visit our news partner ABC13.

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