Education vs. Health

HOUSTON — For generations, the fight when it comes to our children and schools have been about integration, better resources, bridging the educational gaps between whites and minority students and, over the last few years, conquering the digital divide when it comes to students in underserved communities. NEVER in a million years, would many of us have ever believed there would be a fight to keep students AWAY from the campuses, that is, until a little-known virus called COVID-19/ Coronavirus crept upon us.

Many students were excited when Spring Break 2020 was extended due to the uncertainty surrounding the virus. The excitement then turned to disappointment for many seniors who found themselves not able to graduate with their friends and stripped of the 13-year dream from Pre-K to 12th grade to walk across the stage, toss a cap in the air and bust an “I did it” dance while proud family members scream “That’s my baby!”

But now, with more than five million Americans being infected with coronavirus and the nationwide death toll topping 160.000 – which is expected to climb significantly over the upcoming fall and winter months — parents are left struggling with the decision of whether or not to send their most prized possessions back to school.

This decision is especially hard for many Black and Hispanic families, as the virus is killing members of their communities at disproportionately higher rates.

On one hand, schools provide more than just academics to children and adolescents. In addition to reading, writing and math, children learn social and emotional skills, get exercise and access to mental health support and other things that cannot be provided with online learning. For many families, school is where kids get healthy meals, access to the internet, and other vital services. It is a place of safety while many parents go to work.

But on the downside, is it a big risk sending children into the battlefield when no one can guarantee their safety?

Ideally, local school leaders, public health experts​, educators and parents can work together to decide how and when to reopen schools – but no one seems to be able to agree on what is the best method. While some parents and teachers are supporting the brick-and-mortar methods of face-to-face interaction, others are adamantly against it — opting for virtual learning instead.

But virtual learning has had its fair share of issues as well.

Houston Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan recently spoke with MSNBC, sharing that the district has lost contact with more than 7,000 students after school operations changed in March.

“When we switched to virtual learning in March, all of our students have a login based on ID, 7,600 (of) those students were not logging on, so they were not actively engaged. When we conducted home visits or phone calls to their families, they were not answering and so that was concerning,” she said.

HISD, which is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh largest in the nation, has launched a campaign in hopes to reconnect.

The latest American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advice says children learn best when they are in school. However, returning to school in person needs careful steps in place to keep students and staff safe.

AAP advises the following safety measures to keep students and staff safe:

  • Physical distancing
  • Wear cloth face coverings & hand hygiene
  • Temperature checks and testing
  • Advanced cleaning and disinfecting
  • Stay up to date with immunizations
  • Get physical exams from pediatrician
  • Do not allow students to fill the hallways during passing periods.
  • Allow students to eat lunches at their desks or in small groups
  • Leave classroom doors open to help reduce high touch surfaces such as doorknobs.
  • Give bus riders assigned seats and require them to wear a mask while on the bus.
  • Encourage students who have other ways to get to school to use those options.
  • Mark hallways and stairs with one-way arrows on the floor to cut down on crowding in the halls.
  • Students should be allowed to use the playground in small groups.

In addition to having plans in place to keep students safe, there are other factors that school communities need to address:

Pressure to catch up. Some students may not have had access to computers and internet. Schools should be prepared to adjust curricula and not expect to make up all lost progress.

Students with disabilities. The impact of schools being closed may have been greater for students with disabilities. They may have a difficult time transitioning back to school after missing out on instruction time as well as school-based services such as occupational, physical, and speech-language therapy and mental health support counseling. School should review the needs of each child with an Individual Education Program before they return to school and provide services even if they are done virtually.

Behavioral health/emotional support. Your child’s school should anticipate and be prepared to address a wide range of mental health needs of students and staff and recognize students who show signs of anxiety or distress.

Remember: Returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic may not feel like normal – at least for a while. But having safety plans – and making sure schools have the resources needed to follow them –​ can help protect students, teachers, staff and families. ​

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October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

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