The Texas Education Agency has released its guidelines for students' return to school for the 2020-2021 school year.
“Both as Commissioner and as a public school parent, my number one priority is the health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. “That is why the guidance laid out today will provide flexibility to both parents and districts to make decisions based on the ever-changing conditions of this public health crisis. The state is and remains committed to providing a high-quality education to all Texas students, while ensuring the health and safety of students, teachers, staff, and families.”
According to Morath, parents will have more choices than normal this year as they decide which school setting is best for their child.
Parents will be allowed to choose between in-person and online instruction. However, parents who choose remote instruction may be asked to commit to the instruction for a full grading period of six or nine week.
Parents will not have to make that commitment more than two weeks in advance. They can also make that decision at any point as the year progresses.
All students, teachers, staff and visitors coming to campus must be screened before being allowed on campus.
Assuming the governor's most recent executive order is still in place, masks will be required while in school buildings, with certain exceptions made. Under Governor Abbott's order, children under the age of 10 are exempt.
Schools will also be required to follow any forthcoming executive orders issued by Governor Abbott.
Districts have the option to establish a phased-in return to on-campus instruction for up to the first three weeks of the school year.
The TEA says it will provide the following to school districts:
- Reimbursement for extra COVID-19 related expenses incurred during the 2019-2020 school year.
- Tens of millions of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies will be provided to school systems at no cost.
- Free online, TEKS-aligned learning tools to deliver remote instruction;
- Teacher training provided at no cost to the school system; and
- Statewide efforts to help bridge the digital divide for students at home, along with other ongoing support.
Due to the nature of this pandemic, parents and educators should expect to see some campuses close for brief periods during the upcoming school year. If there are significant changes to the public health situation, there may need to be additional changes to the framework as well.