Teachers Return to Give Instruction at Wisdom HS Campus for First Time Since March


David Fanucchi

Teachers arriving at Wisdom HS must have their temperature checked and be screened before entering the building. HISD is also requiring all employees to check in on a phone app by 7 am each day.

Mara Nezami, Online Editor


Wisdom High School teachers returned to their classrooms this morning to give instruction from the campus for the first time since March. They also began to prepare for students to arrive on campus in one week, at what looks and feels like a very different environment.

In what is being called the “Year of Flexibility”, students, teachers, and staff all started the school year virtually back in early September. When Houston ISD students and parents were given the choice to continue virtually or attend the school for in-person instruction – beginning with the second six-weeks of grading starting on Monday, October 19 – approximately 700 Wisdom students and their parents chose to remain virtual.

So, with an enrollment of just over 1,900 students, Wisdom Principal Michelle Wagner and her staff must still plan for up to 1,300 students to arrive on campus next week. That is because all of the students who did not have their parents select an option online, were defaulted to in-person instruction. “We just don’t know what we are going to get on Monday,” said Assistant Principal Romulo Ramos. “We will have to wait and see. But, we are as prepared as we can get and we are excited to see our students again.”

The in-person schedule will be the same as the virtual schedule, to accommodate students who decide to switch from one learning platform to the other, in any given six-week period. Wagner has assured students, parents and staff that the administration and custodians are following all CDC guidelines and HISD safety protocols, to ensure that staff and students are in a clean environment.

“Students and staff will be screened upon arrival each day and to wear the required PPE,” Wagner said. “All students and staff will maintain six feet of distance outside of classrooms. We are extremely prepared to provide a safe learning environment for students who choose to come to our campus.”

Classroom with desks spread out as far as possible

We spoke to several Wisdom students about their thoughts – some who are excited about going back to campus, and other who are still not sure. “I can’t wait to get back, and go to my classes to see my teachers and friends,” said sophomore Leslie Perez. “I think the school will do a great job to ensure that everyone is safe.”

“Some students might not take it as seriously as they should, and might be immature about the situation, potentially putting others at risk,” junior Zainab Kinyi said. “I am choosing to stay with virtual learning. It has been a bit of a struggle to get used to, but I have the peace of mind that I am not putting any of my family members at risk.”

For Wisdom teachers, their perspective on the situation is very different. They will teach both the in-person students and the virtual students simultaneously, from their classrooms.

Teachers will have a plexiglass barrier on their desks

“I love teaching and I particularly love teaching at this campus because Wisdom students are magnificent,” said English Teacher Karen Dulaney-Smith. “My first worry is everyone’s safety. We have limited knowledge of the ways in which the virus spreads; yet we are engaging in potentially risky behaviors. There are extreme modifications being made now to the campus, and it will not look as the students remember it. But there are also challenges for the virtual learners – students are experiencing technical difficulties, while crowded households and a lack of quiet space or a shared schedule create distractions. And it is more difficult to understand each other online.”

The cafeteria at Wisdom sits empty

History teacher Kyle Clarkson is looking forward to seeing some students again in person. “I am trying to stay optimistic about school reopening, and I am very excited to meet my students in-person after weeks of only getting to know their online personas,” said Clarkson. “I look forward to things feeling almost normal, but I am also very concerned about COVID-19 and will be taking every precaution to keep myself, my students, and my classroom as safe as possible.”