Hays CISD expands Homebound Academy, allowing students with medical concerns to stay home

Hays

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Hays Consolidated Independent School District announced on Thursday it won’t be offering a virtual option for the upcoming school year.

Instead, the district will be expanding its Homebound Academy to students who may need to stay home for medical reasons.

It’s kids younger than 12 who will be going into the new school year without the option to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

“I finally resolved that I was just going to go ahead and homeschool them,” Nicole Romero-Piche said. She’s a Hays CISD mom of three kids who are all under 12 years old.

Nicole Romero-Piche's kids at play. She's a mom in the Hays CISD, and she's deciding how to homeschool her children, who are too young to get vaccinated for COVID-19 at this point. (KXAN Photo/Jala Washington)
Nicole Romero-Piche’s kids at play. She’s a mom in the Hays CISD, and she’s deciding how to homeschool her children, who are too young to get vaccinated for COVID-19 at this point. (KXAN Photo/Jala Washington)

Romero-Piche said she doesn’t want to take any chances on her kids being more exposed to the virus, which is why she decided to keep them home.

Now, hearing Hays CISD is expanding its Homebound program, which lets kids do school from home if they get a doctor’s note — she’s hopeful.

“It makes me hopeful, first of all, for the average student, that they’re going to be able to receive the direct instruction that they need and really can’t afford and still be able to keep their kids safe,” Romero-Piche said.

Back-to-school prep is in full swing. Principals and curriculum instructors gathered at Lehman High School on Thursday.

Hays CISD Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright said they’re still working out logistics for Homebound Academy but will offer it to all students who are eligible.

Hays CISD principals and curriculum instructors gathered at Lehman High School on Thursday. They're trying to figure out logistics for their Homebound Academy program. (KXAN Photo/Jala Washington)
Hays CISD principals and curriculum instructors gathered at Lehman High School on Thursday. They’re trying to figure out logistics for their Homebound Academy program. (KXAN Photo/Jala Washington)

“We will be able to provide the support that they need at home,” Wright said. “We are planning on having a complete separate group of teachers.”

According to Wright, they’re putting together a group of retired teachers and substitutes who may be willing to go to students’ homes for face-to-face instruction one hour a day during the week. But he said full-time teachers will also have to option to volunteer as well.

“[Students] will work on their assignments at their own pace, and then they will have the support of a teacher,” Wright said.

While Romero-Piche decides if this would work for her kids, she still has questions.

“If I have two kids in two different grades, am I going to have two instructors making their way through my home, or are they going to send one instructor to facilitate them both?” she asked.

Hays CISD is working to see how many families would be interested in the program, so they can finalize how many teachers they’ll need. 

The district plans on using federal emergency funding to cover the added costs for this, according to a spokesperson.

For a full look at Hays CISD’s back-to-school plan, click here.

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