The Houston R-1 School District has faced and will continue to face unprecedented situations due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I want to express my appreciation to the staff of the Houston R-1 District in meeting these situations. As a group, they have maintained and cleaned facilities, prepared and handed out meals, created virtual and paper packet instruction for the last two months of school, and maintained contact with students.

Many have learned about Zoom meetings and other online resources to help our kids out in any way possible. Many have jumped in and said “what can I do to help.” Our students have had to work in a completely different environment, and we appreciate their efforts.  Parents and students have shown great support and patience as well as we have navigated through this spring.  Numerous people have donated to support various recognition methods for our seniors, along with generous donations to pay lunch debts and other needs. We live in a great community!

What does the future hold?  As we look to move forward, the following plans are in place.

School Meals: Meals will continue to be handed out through at least June 30. Those dates are Tuesday, May 26 (due to Memorial Day), Monday,  June 1; Monday, June 8; Monday, June 15; Monday, June 22; and Monday, June 29. These will be available at our regular pickup site from 10 a.m. until noon. While we hope to do meal handout in July, we will plan on taking a short break for the first two weeks in July and then start back up again during the planned summer school time.

Graduation: As published, we plan on holding senior graduation on June 6, 2020 at 7 p.m. We have backup times of 10 a.m. on June 6 and 2 p.m. on June 7. The event is scheduled to be held at the football field. The alternate times are in place because we do not plan on using the gym as a backup. We want to provide a graduation as close to normal as possible for our seniors. We will have guidelines coming out soon, and we ask that everyone respect them for the sake of all of those attending.  The Houston Herald will be streaming the event for those that would prefer not to be there in person. There will not be a baccalaureate service this year. 

Summer School: Right now, we are taking registration for a virtual summer school with offerings for middle school and high school students. Deadline to register is this Friday, May 26. We are also planning a seated summer school for elementary, middle school and possibly high school from July 20-July 30. This will depend on guidelines at the time.  

Summer Student Activities: We are planning a district hosted ACT test on June 2. Under current social distancing guidelines, we will have students spaced out and in small groups for the proctoring of the test. This will give our students one more opportunity to take the test (Houston School District pays for all juniors signed up for the test).

Last week, FFA officer interviews were conducted at school. Students were able to empty lockers, return items and turn in assignments to end the year. 

We have also begun limited athletic work at the school.  Again going by current health guidelines and in consultation with the Texas County Health Department, students will be at the school going through summer training work. Social distancing guidelines will be followed as well as limits on numbers, and regular cleaning of any equipment to be used.

Preschool and kindergarten screenings have also been set for June 16 and 17. Please contact the elementary office to schedule a time. 

Building Progress: Progress continues on our new gym building project. Recent heavy rains have limited the work at times, however excavation and the beginning groundwork are well underway. The recent hail storm caused over $1.7 million in damage and so for the next year we will be doing work on roofs throughout the district in addition to our building project. We have also used the time of closed school buildings to complete several small projects that we have had trouble fitting into a schedule.

2020-2021 School Year: Our hope is to begin the 2020-2021 school year as close to normal as possible.  As of right now, the start date for school is Aug. 24 with open house planned for Aug. 20. We are making plans for various scenarios that we may be faced with. Will we be back like normal? Will we have social distancing requirements still in place? Will we have a mixed seated/virtual  school when we start up? These are all questions that the Houston R-1 School District, The Houston R-1 School Board, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Texas County Health Department and Gov. Mike Parson will have input in answering.  As a district, Houston is in a great place with technology devices available to students, however we know there is much work to do in bringing connectivity at home. We will continue working on this.

The Missouri School Board Association has put out a 96-page document outlining suggestions, policies and procedures for returning to school. These are recommendations for schools across the state. Each district is unique and we will determine what of those recommendations best fits our school and our community. 

Health Science Class: For the first time in many years we are set to begin hosting our own health science classes for high school students here at Houston. In partnerships with TCMH, the City of Houston and the Industrial Development Authority, the school will begin training to expose students to the health field and earn their CNA certification in high school. 

Finally, we miss the kids. Current plans may change due to any changes in guidance from local or state entities. However, we hope to get our students back for summer school and to start a great 2020-2021 school year! We hope everyone has a safe and happy summer!

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