COVID-19 has closed classrooms early in Texas.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Friday that included the closure of all schools in the state for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, a measure aimed at promoting social distancing and slowing the spread of COVID-19. The order applies to public and private schools as well as institutions of higher learning.
There have been more than 17,000 reported cases of the upper-respiratory disease caused by the new strain of coronavirus throughout the state, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, including 428 deaths caused by COVID-19. In Houston and Harris County, the disease has infected at least 4,400 people and caused 65 deaths.
“The team of doctors advising us has determined that it would be unsafe to allow students together at school for the foreseeable future,” Abbott said.
Texas schools can continue to utilize distance learning through online programs while campuses are closed. Houston ISD, the largest school district in Texas, announced Friday that it will continue its “HISD @ H.O.M.E.” program through June 1.
HISD’s online program provides instructional videos from 9-11 a.m., 1-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The videos include lessons from teachers and teacher development specialists, in English and Spanish, about subjects including math, reading and writing, science, social studies and fine arts. They are broadcast on Comcast channel 18, AT&T U-verse channel 99 and online at HoustonISD.org/LiveTV.
Abbott said teachers will be allowed to use their classrooms for conduct video lessons or administrative duties.
Most schools in Texas have been closed since mid-March. Abbott had previously ordered Texas schools to remain closed until May 4.
Abbott said Friday that Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath will soon provide details about how schools in the state can conduct graduation ceremonies.