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HARRIS COUNTY — Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Harris County Public Health Aug. 12, 2020, released a roadmap to reopening schools, a data-driven plan to advise local school districts on what thresholds to use when considering to reopen schools. The guidance, developed based on national and international research and with the input of public health experts and school officials, is designed to put Harris County schools on track for a realistic, responsible, safe, and sustainable reopening. It includes a common set of metrics school leaders should rely on and actions those leaders should take once those milestones are achieved.

“We live in an interconnected community and while our student populations may be limited to certain areas of the county, school teachers, staff and parents live and travel throughout our community,” said Judge Lina Hidalgo. “In-person learning is vital for the educational development and social well-being of children and young adults, but right now it is simply not safe to return to in-person learning. By committing to a common set of rules we can reduce the likelihood of see-sawing between opening and closing, which harms our students and exhausts our community.”

“Our top priority remains the health and well-being of students, parents, faculty, and staff,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, executive director and local public health authority for Harris County Public Health. “We wholeheartedly advocate for students to return to in-person learning and school activities, however, we are still in the midst of the pandemic, and it is simply not safe for our kids to do so at this time. Kids are not immune from COVID-19, and can transmit the virus to others, who may be at high risk. By protecting our children, we protect our community.”

To help guide a safe return to in-person instruction, the roadmap provides a color coded system similar to the county’s COVID-19 Threat Level System. The code uses the following levels:

Harris County COVID-19 Threat Level System

  • Red: All schools should be closed to in person instruction and activities.
  • Orange: School districts following a plan approved by Harris County Public Health may consider in-person instruction and activities for certain priority populations while not exceeding 25% capacity or 500 students, whichever is lower, in buildings or rooms, so long as schools can maintain cohorting practices.
  • Yellow: School districts following a plan approved by Harris County Public Health may consider in-person instruction and activities while not exceeding 50% capacity or 1,000 students, whichever is lower, in buildings or rooms, so long as schools can maintain cohorting practices.
  • Green: School districts following a plan approved by Harris County Public Health may resume in-person instruction at their usual capacity.

In addition to providing information on when to reopen, the plan also outlines detailed reopening processes for levels orange through green and how HCPH will be available to provide technical assistance to schools to help keep students and teachers safe. HCPH will support school districts in developing their plans, review school reopening plans based on compliance with the color-coded system, and formally approve plans that have appropriate procedures in place.

To read the full plan and learn more about the latest COVID-19 trends visit https://smex12-5-en-ctp.trendmicro.com:443/wis/clicktime/v1/query?url=www.ReadyHarris.org&umid=708b4206-5c36-476b-83a0-8c9930352088&auth=1f23e45a92d8f8e4ef680dfa1a0d34f038f534d5-5b9ab1f5255b0d740ec2d7f43847d0b60539b934