HISD swaps virtual learning day for just 1 hour of study

The winter storm threw a wrench into student learning plans, and the problems are continuing to impact some HISD students two weeks later.

Video Transcript

- Absolutely a lot of confusion and frustration. Students at HISD were set to have a normal virtual day today through Friday, but today's plans got completely scrapped and rearranged. Now parents say leaders here owe them an explanation.

DANIELLE DURBIN: Since when is one hour of unsupervised work online considered school? And how is the district getting away with this?

- Danielle Durbin is a working mom juggling her career and staying on top of her girls. Her second and fifth graders have been learning in person at Kolter Elementary since October. But today they're home.

DANIELLE DURBIN: Another week of school closures for no good reason is just an additional burden.

- Durbin, like thousands of parents in HISD got an email saying students would only have to log in for an hour today to complete assignments alone. No teachers would be present. The district says 12 campuses sustained damage from the winter storm. And they were working to do repairs. Durbin doesn't understand how that prevents her kids from doing a regular day, either on campus or virtually.

DANIELLE DURBIN: I know that many other districts in the area are having in-person classes this week. And even those that are fully virtual are having teachers stream live lessons.

- I reached out to Houston ISD to get a better understanding of the teacher-less day. Some of my questions included, why was that decision made? What is the plan to get the district completely back up and going after the storm? How do y'all plan on making up all the missed days due to the pandemic, storm, et cetera?

- The district determined that we should not return to face-to-face instruction in schools this week. Fort Bend ISD students returned to virtual learning today in normal capacity. Like Houston ISD, they plan to return to in-person instruction March 1. With a large number of HISD students already falling behind academically due to the pandemic, Durbin says the district should weigh each decision it makes.

DANIELLE DURBIN: If HISD feels like it wants to close, they're just going to go ahead and do that. And parents have to deal with it. And that is wrong. And it's really hurting kids and families.

- Houston ISD sent me an email about 2:30 saying they were working to get my questions answered. But so far, we have not heard back. I also reached out to TEA, the Texas Education Agency, to see if they had any insight on why HISD made the decision about today's learning. I also have not heard back from them.