Houston-area school districts' COVID-19 response as students return to classroom

Some Houston-area school districts are nearly a month into reopening for in-person learning. Clear Creek ISD began phasing in in-person learning on August 31st. That same day, the district reported a kindergartner was positive for COVID-19.

Elaina Polsen, the district's spokesperson, says as long as students and staff continue follow new health and safety protocol, there should not be any major disruptions in learning this school year because of COVID-19.

"Overall, we are very, very pleased with our reopening and want the public to know that we are closely monitoring this. Our guard is still up," Polsen told FOX 26.

Clear Creek ISD kindergartner tested positive for coronavirus on first day of in person classes

School representatives say there is no reason to worry because the student was not able to make any close contact. The school was properly cleaned and classes will resume normally.

Families can still opt for online learning, but Polson reports, district-wide, 60% of its 42,000 students are back in the classroom.

"I think it's brought life back to our community," she said enthusiastically.

In mid-October, Clear Creek ISD will welcome more of the students to the classroom who are currently doing virtual learning. Parents must report their choice by the end of next week to give staff time to prepare.

As of Friday, the district reports nine active cases -- seven students and two staff.

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Polsen says the biggest challenge involves high school students.

"Teenagers are social creatures," she explained. "So, keeping the social distance during lunch, I would say, has been our biggest challenge."

Another challenge, she adds, is reminding parents to keep their kids home if they are sick.

"Not necessarily COVID positive cases, but we have had children come to school that aren't feeling well," Polsen mentioned.

The Harris County Department of Education works with special education students from more than 26 districts and charter schools. About 60 percent of their students are learning in-person.

"We've been very fortunate and we have zero confirmed COVID-19 cases on our campus," said Jonathan Parker, Assistant Superintendent of Schools.

The biggest challenge he says has been staying in touch with students.

"Getting in contact with each and everyone of our students and ensuring that they're learning with us whether it be in-person or virtually," Parker said.

The Texas Education Agency and Department of State Health Services just launched their first version of a statewide case count at public schools. They report 995 postive cases among students last week. They say data for state level and district level will be available starting next Wednesday.

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Texas public schools are required to report positive COVID-19 cases on their school campuses. The TEA and DSHS will update the data webpage weekly on Wednesdays.