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2020-21 Back to School Plan-FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
These will continue to be updated.

Health and Safety

After studying guidance from the CDC and the Texas Education Agency, HPISD will have the following additional safety measures in place prior to the beginning of the school year:

  • Hand sanitizer stations throughout each campus
  • Regular times for students to wash their hands
  • Plexiglass barriers to protect office staff and visitors, as well as in other high traffic areas in schools
  • Mandatory mask policy
  • Regular electrostatic spraying of disinfectant in each room
  • Self-cleaning film applied to handrails and door handles
  • Personal plexiglass partitions have been ordered for each elementary school student to use throughout the day
  • Careful monitoring and encouragement of social distancing

Additional details may be found in the plan posted here.

Any governmental order (county or state) prohibiting in-person classes would result in HPISD issuing an emergency closure and a switch for all students (both in-person and remote option students) to the Emergency Closure Schedule. In addition, if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in a particular class or campus, HPISD could, depending on the circumstances and in consultation with the Dallas County Health and Human Services department, issue an emergency closure to protect the safety of students and staff.

As per TEA guidelines, any time a positive case of COVID-19 has been identified on a campus, parents and staff at that particular school will be informed while protecting personal information about the individual. HPISD's plan for handling confirmed cases and exposures to COVID-19 can be found here.
Individuals Confirmed or Suspected with COVID-19
Any individuals who themselves either: (a) are test-confirmed to have COVID-19; or (b) experience the symptoms of COVID-19 (listed below) must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to campus until the school system screens the individual to determine any of the below conditions for campus re-entry have been met:
In the case of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return to school when all three of the following criteria are met:
i. at least one day (24 hours) has passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications);
ii. the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and
iii. at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
In the case of an individual who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and who is not evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, such individual is assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to the campus until the individual has completed the same three-step set of criteria listed above.
If the individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to school before completing the above stay at home period, the individual must either (a) obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis or (b) obtain an acute infection test (at a physician’s office, approved testing location, or other site) that comes back negative for COVID-19.
Close Contact
This document refers to “close contact” with an individual who is test-confirmed to have COVID-19. The definition of close contact is evolving with our understanding of COVID-19, and individual scenarios should be determined by an appropriate public health agency. In general, close contact is defined as:
being directly exposed to infectious secretions (e.g., being coughed on); or
being within 6 feet for a largely uninterrupted or sustained extended contact period throughout the course of a day of approximately 15 minutes; however, additional factors like case/contact masking (i.e., both the infectious individual and the potential close contact have been consistently and properly masked), ventilation, presence of dividers, and case symptomology may affect this determination.
Either (a) or (b) defines close contact if it occurred during the infectious period of the case, defined as two days prior to symptom onset to 10 days after symptom onset. In the case of asymptomatic individuals who are test-confirmed with COVID-19, the infectious period is defined as two days prior to the confirming lab test and continuing for 10 days following the confirming lab test.
Per the CDC guidelines, a single case of COVID-19 in a school, in most instances, will not warrant closing the entire school. Community spread and how much contact the person with COVID-19 had with others, as well as when such contact took place, will be considered. These variables will also be considered when determining how long a school, or part of the school, stays closed. If the spread of the virus within a school is higher than in the community, or if the school is the source of an outbreak, HPISD will work with local health officials to determine if temporarily closing the school building is necessary.

Please call and let your school nurse know. Your student’s absence will be excused, and they will have the option of completing school remotely in collaboration with their classroom teacher if they feel up to it.

They can return to school after 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, and there is a significant improvement in symptoms (i.e. coughing, shortness of breath). If your student tests positive but does not develop symptoms, the time frame of contagiousness starts 2 days prior to the date of test, through at least 10 days. 

The school nurse will also be in contact with you during this time should you have any questions.

HPISD will require masks but will not police the number of layers of the masks.

No. We are asking for parent cooperation without requiring daily accounting.

The reference to five days in relation to a school closure was incorrectly reported. The actual guidance says that a district cannot be closed longer than five days if a positive case requires extensive cleaning of a building. The five days are not a mandatory closure length.

To the extent possible, students who are out for quarantine will remain connected with their class at their grade level during the extended absence. Your student’s absence will be excused, and they will have the option of completing school remotely in collaboration with their classroom teacher if they feel up to it. The student will then return to in-person learning as soon as health criteria are met based on clinic procedures.

A student may not return until all health criteria are met based on district clinic procedures.

No, it is not recommended by the CDC; however, if a student has been in close contact with a positive case, he/she must be self-quarantined as if positive for COVID-19 based on the clinic flowchart.
Yes. School nurses will work within their professional guidelines provided by the Dallas County Health department.
Yes. Your student’s absence will be excused, and they will have the option of completing school remotely in collaboration with their classroom teacher if they feel up to it.

Symptoms associated with COVID – 19 include, but are not limited, to:

  • Fever (>100° F) 
  • Cough 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Sore throat 
  • Headache 
  • Chills 
  • Rigors 
  • Myalgia 
  • Nausea/vomiting 
  • Diarrhea
  • New onset of loss of taste or smell 

This list of symptoms can mimic several different childhood illnesses or chronic health conditions. Just because a student may present with one of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean they will be excluded from school according to COVID guidelines. When the school nurse assesses a student presenting with signs of illness, the student's health history, along with many other factors, is taken into account.

If your student has any symptoms of illness, please keep them home until they meet the ‘Return to School’ criteria listed on the district’s Health Services webpage.  If your student should become ill while at school with fever and/or respiratory symptoms, the school nurse will, when appropriate, place a surgical mask on your student, assess them and contact you for further guidance.  

Masks will not be placed on a student that is short of breath or vomiting.


There are two types of virtual schedules that will be used--along with an in-person option--during the 2020-2021 school year as needed. These two virtual schedules include the “remote option” schedule for students who elect that approach while other students attend in-person classes; the second will be used during Emergency Closure when all staff and students must operate off campus through a virtual learning platform.  


Remote Learning, explained

The first virtual schedule, the one used for students who elect the remote option, will vary by level.  For elementary students, the class for the remote/virtual section (while other students receive in-person instruction on campuses) will be dedicated to 100% virtual instruction. This could mean students who are in a virtual elementary classroom could be with other students across the district. This will give elementary students the chance to work closely with a classroom teacher dedicated to that group of students and the virtual approach which will include live instruction with the teachers and offline assignments throughout each school day.  Knowing that our youngest students will need to become accustomed to a full school day in a virtual environment, the teacher will work with students and families to develop a routine. The teacher will be mindful of the need for screen breaks but still meet the demands of a high-quality instructional environment.  


For intermediate, middle, and high school students who elect the remote option, instruction will be scheduled differently than the elementary level. Students will be issued a class schedule that reflects their course selections by “hours” (Hour 1, Hour 2, etc.). These students will connect synchronously with each hour’s class as directed by the teacher. Most often, this will be at the beginning of the scheduled class time, but this could vary based on the teacher’s direction. During the synchronous time (live learning) each day, students will be able to listen to the instruction provided and, when applicable, watch any presentations being made in the classroom. Students may also be asked to engage in small group work with students both from the in-person setting and the remote setting.


Students in the remote option will be allowed to move to an offline setting to complete any assignments, activities, reading, etc. as directed by the teacher. This will result in multiple sign-on expectations throughout the school day. Attendance, engagement, and submission of work will be expected as if students were on campus attending classes. To increase the fidelity of assessments, remote option students may be asked to report to a campus testing center for designated assessments. This setting would allow for ample social distancing and masks would be required.


Emergency Closure-Virtual Learning, explained

The second virtual schedule for the district is the Emergency Closure Schedule. This schedule will be used in the event of an emergency closure causing all staff and students to operate from a remote location through a virtual learning platform. This schedule will be provided to parents before the first day of school; students--both those who are in-person option students and those who are remote option students--will be expected to log in and engage as directed on the first day of any emergency closure. Given the differences in the elementary and secondary approaches to the remote option schedule, the differences between these two schedules will vary. At the secondary level, students will find longer synchronous classes and shorter asynchronous classes in the Emergency Closure Schedule, but they will still engage in every class at the designated times on the Emergency Closure Schedule.

HPISD will ask each student to make a declaration for the in-person or remote option by August 6, 2020. High school students have until Tuesday, August 11 at noon to choose their option. After that time, student class assignments (elementary) and class schedules (secondary) will be finalized. As per TEA guidance, students may change their option for a new grading period. Therefore, two weeks prior to a new grading period, parents will be asked if they wish to change the option for their students. Parents who opt for their students to have in-person instruction but who must be absent for health reasons will be allowed to return to in-person instruction after health criteria are met. HPISD will work with an in-person option student who must be absent; however, it is possible that the instructional times may not mirror any posted schedules. Instead, classroom teachers will work with the in-person option student similar to working with any extended absence. Students choosing the remote option will not be able to switch to the in-person option until the beginning of a new grading period.

Day to Day Operations
Every effort is being taken to provide a quality education for every child in the safest way possible to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. For that reason, elementary students will remain with their homeroom class for a majority of the day, including recess, lunch, and Specials in order to minimize social interactions. Secondary students will follow their daily schedule and sit in assigned seats throughout the day.

Each campus is designing a specific plan for their campus that will involve multiple entrance doors. Each entrance will be monitored by staff for safety. Parents will not be allowed to enter the building in the morning.

Elementary schools

Students will enter designated doors that will be monitored by campus personnel. Students who arrive/dismiss utilizing carpool will be monitored to ensure the safety of students and staff. Students will enter the building and wait in designated areas according to grade level and homeroom classes/cohorts. Designated staff members will supervise students, while keeping a 6 foot distance to ensure the safety of all students and staff.


To limit gatherings in common areas, students will go directly to their 1st period classroom in the morning. Students will not congregate in the cafeteria or auditorium. Limited breakfast service may still be available in the cafeteria where students may eat breakfast following safe distancing guidelines and then report to their classrooms.  

To avoid hallway congestion, students will not use lockers. All personal items should be kept in their backpacks which will be carried with them between classes. Cell phones will remain in student backpacks turned off.

Hallways will be marked with directional arrows and spacing guidelines.  Students will wait in the hallway until their teacher admits them to the classroom.

Parents and visitors will not be allowed in the building during arrival or dismissal.

Afternoon dismissal will occur through the same doorways and students will be required to wait outside observing safe distancing until picked up in the afternoon. Students should leave campus immediately unless participating in teacher supervised tutorials.

Hand sanitizer will be available at each entrance and in each classroom.

Clear signage reminding students and staff to promote safety practices will be posted at entrances and in classrooms.

High school students

Parents of high school students are asked to avoid early drop offs in the mornings. Students who arrive by car will enter through their assigned main entrances outlined below. Parents/guardians will not be able to leave their cars or enter the building during student arrival or during student dismissal. Signage will be posted to communicate social distancing expectations within the school building.

Students who walk to school shall maintain appropriate distance (6 feet) from others and avoid congregating outside or inside the building. Parents who wish to pick up their student before the end of the school day will need to call ahead so students can be sent to parent vehicles upon arrival.


HPHS students will enter the following assigned entrances:

Freshman and Sophomores: Entrances on Douglas and Emerson

Juniors and Seniors: Main student entrance on Westchester


HPHS students arriving to school early will be directed to the following designated locations where students will be expected to sit distanced from one another:

Freshman and Sophomores: Cafeteria

Juniors and Seniors: HPHS Library and Auditorium  


During student dismissal, teachers will stagger student egress to assist students in maintaining appropriate distance from other students. Students will exit the building from the exterior door closest to their classroom.

Unfortunately, parents will not be able to walk their children into school this year. Each elementary school will establish a Hug Zone on the sidewalk outside of their school. To ensure the safety of all students, staff and parents, designated areas on sidewalks will clearly be marked for parents to give a hug/say goodbyes to students. To minimize the number of adults on campuses, parents will not be allowed in the building. Staff will monitor and welcome students as they enter the building, keeping at least 6 feet from the doorways.

Students will be dismissed by grade levels/homeroom teachers/cohorts through multiple exits while being monitored by staff members to ensure safety of all students, staff and parents. 

Homeroom teachers will walk their class out designated doors. Students who walk/ride bikes/meet with siblings to walk, will be dropped at “Hug Zones.” The homeroom teacher will then proceed to designated areas for carpool pickup. Students will stay in designated areas to ensure safety of all students, staff and parents.

Elementary schools:

Students in HPISD elementary schools will eat in the cafeteria or common area, socially distanced with their own personal plexiglass partitions. There will be time allotted for staff to clean all tables between lunch periods. Students will have assigned seats each day. Pre-selected meals will be delivered to assigned locations.


Areas will be designated for separate groups of students which may include additional lunch spaces in the cafeteria, gyms, assembly rooms, and outside to allow for students to be socially distanced from one another. Outdoor seating will be used, weather permitting. Students will continue to eat with their cohort group of the advisory class or house using assigned seating.

Limited lunch options will be available for students who do not bring lunch from home. Students will have the opportunity to pre-order hot and cold lunch selections which will be available for pickup to minimize lines for food service and cashiers.

During recess, cohort groups of advisory class or house will be limited to play areas at a single time to minimize exposure.

Cafeteria tables and seats will be disinfected between groups.

High school:

The following precautions are in place to help promote a healthy and safe environment during student lunch periods at HPHS:

  • Students will line up 6 feet apart from each other. Markings on the floor will show where each student can stand safely.
  • Lines will form from service lines and continue down the North/South corridors along the Cafeteria. Markings on the floor will show where each student can stand safely.
  • Tables will be set up with plexiglass barriers between each seat at a safe distance.
  • Overflow tables will be available in the Ensemble Room.
  • All students will have masks on unless eating/drinking.
  • No sharing of food between students.
  • Measures will be taken to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria during each lunch period.
  • All tables and surfaces will be disinfected between each lunch period.
  • Staggered release of students who are picking up food; holding locations to decrease the number of students in hallways waiting to pick up food.
  • Outside food deliveries will not be allowed for students.

Questions pertaining to elementary schools

Yes, during lunch when students are adequately distanced and using their personal plexiglass partition, during PE and at recess, as well as when adequately distanced. For instance, when students are outside engaged in rigorous activity and spaced more than 6 feet apart, they will be able to remove their masks.

SeeSaw was selected as the virtual platform for PreK-1st grade as it is easier for students at that age to interact with an iPad (the technology we have for those grade levels); 2nd grade students will use Google Classroom.

Initially yes, but we should all strive to eventually get students comfortable with the idea of walking by themselves to class.

Questions pertaining to MIS and HPMS
Information will be shared as soon as it becomes available and the HPMS staff has had a chance to work through it.

If students are able to maintain adequate social distance, they will not be required to wear a mask during recess.

Questions pertaining to HPHS

Students will engage with their assigned classes and teachers who are operating in person.

Teachers in each of these areas will be asked to identify ways to engage students virtually.

Common questions related to movement between the two options and hybrid


Yes, but the parent will need to work with a campus administrator on their options.

HPISD will use an asynchronous remote learning model as defined by TEA. This holds a requirement of “instructional minutes” for which HPISD is held accountable each day. These minutes may be documented in both synchronous (live) and asynchronous (not live) activities.  Students must ultimately demonstrate daily interaction with the instruction and activities and have daily evidence of engaging in and submitting work to be considered present in a remote model. This is a very different approach from the spring closure where teachers focused on only the essential learnings in a pass/fail model. This fall, students will engage in a full day of learning five days a week as required by TEA.

Yes, if the number of COVID-19 cases is vastly different on just one campus to warrant a closure.
Other common questions related to classroom/courses
Information about Special Programs can be found here.
TAG classes will be approached using strategies for virtual instruction.

Remote students will not be asked to mingle with in-person students in the event they are asked to report to take a test. A testing center will be established to allow for adequate social distancing. This may occur during class time or at alternate times. The location may be at the high school or at a district facility. Assessments will cover the same objectives as those that are in-person but may be a different form depending on the instructor’s preference.  

HPISD’s Technology department is currently working on plans with each campus for device checkout and distribution.
At this time, only cafeteria volunteers will be allowed in the school. Once the school year starts, the district will evaluate needs on each campus and respond accordingly with volunteer access.

Desks will face the same direction and students in elementary classes will be provided with a personal three-sided safety shield for their work space. These shields will be taken with the student to lunch to provide an extra layer of protection in addition to the social distancing when masks are removed during eating/drinking periods.