HOUSTON - Students in HISD went back into the school building today for the first time in seven months.
It has certainly been a first day back to school like most of us have never seen before. Who would have thought students starting school would be such a strange sight?
The kids going back into school buildings is bizarre because it's the first time since March.
"These are unprecedented times, simply unprecedented times and we want our kids safe,” says Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner who was there at a school in Acres Homes to greet the students.
As HISD returns to face to face learning it's not business as usual, which is obvious from the titles of those here welcoming the kids back, from the mayor to members of the federal government.
"We are united and we are united about education,” Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee told the crowd.
"When I saw the mayor and all the elected officials showing up I said man somebody drew a crowd this morning,” smiled Senator John Whitmire but don't get used to seeing a vast number of visitors.
"Visitation is limited to essential visitors only with prescheduled appointments,” says HISD Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan.
All employees, students, and visitors must undergo entry screenings, wear masks, and social distance. Sanitizer is stationed around schools and we're told high touch areas will be disinfected throughout the day. School buses are set to be sanitized after each drop-off and deep cleaned weekly. Although bus riders are limited.
“We are providing service to elementary students, special education students, homeless students, and students attending specialized schools,” says Dr. Lathan. As for kids continuing to learn from home. "We've provided 110,000 devices and 36,200 internet hotspots to students in need,” Dr. Lathan explains.
60% of HISD students are still learning virtually, including 12-year-old Amar Davis whose mom isn't quite comfortable sending him into the building. "I know from working with kids in the past that parents send their kids to school sick. So I'd rather take a wait and see the type of stance before I let him go back,” Baylessia Mayes. Dr. Lathan says isolation areas are set up in all of the schools for anyone showing signs of illness throughout the day.
She also says the district is still trying to track down 13,000 students who haven't been enrolled.