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Brazos Valley schools prepare to apply for TEA's COVID-19 grants

Posted at 6:16 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 19:16:52-04

BRAZOS VALLEY, TEXAS — In an effort to make up for any lost learning that students experienced during the pandemic, the Texas Education Agency [TEA] is offering grant money to school districts that can be applied for all sorts of benefits, from additional learning materials, to extra days of school.

Teachers, such as fourth-grade math instructor Franterrick Powell of Navasota's John C. Webb Elementary, have been doing their best to make sure their students are all caught up after being out of the classroom for several months in 2020.

“We’ve done a lot of smart group instruction, a lot of intervention, and we also did a lot of tutoring," Powell said. "Those are kind of the key things we’ve done to help our students catch back up.”

Powell and his colleagues feel it would be beneficial to have any extra help they could get.

“I think if we were able to have more hands to help, obviously the smaller ratio between students to teachers, the better the outcome with that individualized attention," said Ashley Maley, a fellow fourth-grade teacher at Webb Elementary.

Navasota ISD superintendent Stu Musick reported that his district has been in discussions about which of the TEA's COVID Learning Acceleration Support, [TCLAS] benefits they will apply for. His administrators have indicated numerous areas of interest, which they listed in a survey for the TEA.

"Accelerated learning was a key component of it," Musick commented. "Accelerated learning is coming from House Bill 4545, which says any student that did not pass the STAAR test requires an accelerated instruction plan or learning plan.”

Just a little to the west, Musick’s counterpart in Caldwell ISD, superintendent Andy Peters, expressed excitement to apply for funding that would help power and increase the size of his district’s residency program, in which Texas A&M college students work directly in the schools.

“We’re going to jump on this TCLAS grant and apply for the funds to take college students that A&M will pre-screen for us, and we’ll support through the whole year," he explained. "And we’ll be able to give them $20,000 over the course of that year, which is not a teacher’s salary, but it’s not coming out of the coffers of Caldwell ISD. It’s coming out of this TEA grant.”

Applications just opened this Monday and must be made no later than Aug. 20. Ultimately, these districts hope that TEA funding can continue to propel their students in a positive direction after being out of the classroom for so long.