Area Superintendents Disagree with Harris County Public Health Recommendations for Reopening Schools

Spring, Texas – On Aug. 17, 10 area superintendents wrote a letter to the Harris County Public Health’s (HCPH) executive director, Umair Shah, after the department released its recommendations regarding reopening schools. Harris County superintendents expressed their disagreement with the recommendations presented by the county. 

“As educational leaders providing for the well-being and educational needs of over a half million students, we cannot support your recommendation that would essentially require indefinite closure of schools to in-person instruction while awaiting a widely available COVID-19 medical countermeasure or greater staffing capacity at Harris County Public Health for contact tracing,” the superintendents said.

The superintendents included in the letter were from Clear Creek, Cy-Fair, Deer Park, Huffman, Humble, Katy, Klein, Pasadena, Spring Branch and Tomball ISDs. All of the above schools have been closed to in-person instruction since March. Said districts have created health and safety plans based off of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Education Agency recommendations, as stated in the letter.

HCPH responded in a statement on Aug. 18, stating the recommendations were set to give school boards benchmarks to go off of when making decisions. They also said that their recommendations are not insinuating that schools must stay closed indefinitely until a COVID-19 vaccine is available. 

With the current COVID numbers, the department said it is currently not safe for students to go back to in-person learning. As numbers decrease in the community, schools can phase back to in-person learning at a safe pace.

On Aug. 12, county officials released their own list of recommended phases for schools to follow. Harris County is currently at the most severe level on the COVID-19 threat level system. They stated during the press conference that schools will not be safe to open anytime soon, but when they are, it will consider the safety of Harris County as a whole.

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