TEA Issues New Guidance For Schools

screenshot of TEA press release

School May Return Remotely For First Four Weeks

Normally, parents and students would be starting their back to school shopping for clothes and supplies. However, this year parents and students are wondering what the 2020-2021 school year will look like and more importantly when will it start?

New guidance from Texa Education Agency released today, allows Texas public schools to offer virtual-only instruction potentially as late as November. Commissioner Morath says this should give Texas more time to flatten the curve.

High schools have even more flexibility, as they won’t be required to offer five days of in-person instruction per week. The hybrid option for high school students, allows schools to offer a combination of in-person and online-only classes. In the hybrid model, students would receive on campus instruction for a minimum of 40% of days in a grading period. According to TEA, schools using this model would still meet the state’s school funding requirements.

Under the initial TEA guidelines released July 7, schools were required to reopen with the option of in person learning five days a week. Today’s announcement, allows all districts to require online-only instruction for students with at-home technology for the first four weeks of school. Districts can apply for a waiver from Texas Education Agency for up to another four weeks.

New TEA Guidance-More Questions

TEA says school officials are required to offer in-person classes to any students who do not have computers and internet access at home. Also, districts that offer 100% virtual instruction must provide devices and WiFi hotspots to students who need them. Districts that violate the mandate could lose state funding. This part has a lot of parents asking, so what does this mean? 

If you’re wondering how will the districts pay for those devices, Gov. Greg Abbott and top state officials announced Friday that they will funnel $200 million of federal stimulus funds to TEA. These funds will be used to buy devices, hotspots and routers and distribute them to school districts.

No Answers On STAAR Testing Yet

With many parents and students wanting to return to the classroom as soon as possible, can they opt for in person instruction under the requirement mentioned above? What about STAAR testing? And, how does this impact fall sports?

Commissioner Morath says, “COVID has been a major disruption in our lives.”

“Our framework ensures there will be on-campus instruction available for all students who need it in the state of Texas,” Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a video statement Friday. “But at the same time, we know we need to provide local schools flexibility to adapt to local health conditions, especially given the rise in COVID cases we’re seeing across the state.”

Last night Dallas County issued an order for all K-12 public schools to remain closed to in-person instruction until after September 7. Meanwhile, Cedar Hill ISD, DeSoto ISD, Duncanville ISD, and Lancaster have all decided school will not resume until September 8, 2020. Each district will be working with their school board to make adjustment to the 2020-2021 school calendar.

Under the guidelines from Dallas County, sports can’t resume until in person instruction resumes. Can you imagine a Texas fall without football under the lights?

When Will TEA Return To Their Offices?

Parents and teachers responding to the announcement by TEA on their Facebook page, want to know when TEA will return to their offices. As the TEA has been working on guidelines, their meetings with officials have been via video conference calls. This has many parents and teachers pointing out if it’s not safe to discuss schools reopening in person, how is it safe to reopen schools?

Another hotly debated issue-school dress code? Many teachers are requesting permission to wear scrubs, making it easier to sanitize their clothing after a day at school.