Losing Weeks of Learning

The end of the school year isn't here yet, but thousands of children remain out of the classroom because of the swine flu risks on their campuses. And that means they either get shortchanged on teaching this year or get stuck in school into the summer. Laurie Johnson has more.

Across the state, nearly 500 campuses are closed and 412,000 students are out of school — all of it related to swine flu.

Texas Education Agency Spokesperson Debbie Ratcliffe says although some other parts of the state have closed more schools — the Houston area has had the roughest school year over all.

"I think your guys are going to be the most difficult situation because they have the potential to have their school year shortened by you know possibly a month this year, between the hurricane and the floods and now the flu."

The handful of campuses closed in this region still represent several hundred kids who are missing out on days and even weeks of class instruction. By law, the school year has to be 180 days long.

"But in extraordinary circumstances like your area's had a couple of times this year, districts can ask us for waivers. And that would mean that they wouldn't have to make up the days. It's not automatic; they've got to request the waiver; and I would anticipate that most of the districts closed because of the H1N1 virus will ask for the waiver."

HISD officials would not comment on the exact plans for the district, but did indicate they will likely ask for waivers from the state instead of extending the school year.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
 

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...