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Central Texas school districts adjust to newly released TEA guidelines

Posted at 6:38 PM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 19:38:54-04

On Tuesday, the Texas Education Agency released its health guidelines for students to safely return with just four weeks until the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

There is no doubt in any ones mind that this next school year will look different from years past.

”We have specialists who are really looking at what are the best ways to navigate, but honestly the most important thing is to reassure our children that it's okay,” said Christie Whitbeck, superintendent of Bryan ISD.

“There was nothing there that was completely surprising... just a few little pieces,” said Mike Martindale, superintendent of College Station ISD.

One of the biggest surprises? This year, parents will have a choice for in-person learning or learning through online virtual platforms for their child. Parents won’t have to make that commitment until two weeks prior to the start of school.

“We want to give parents flexibility, but there is an extreme amount of logistics in once we identify what parents are choosing a virtual platform verses which are coming to school, because are campuses are going to have to react to that and adjust staffing accordingly,” said Martindale.

The TEA and the state government is providing tens of millions of PPE equipment, some online learning tools, and teacher training. However the school districts will need to be prepared to have an expanded budget for the upcoming school year.

“We will be supplemented by the equipment that we have purchased for our needs over the last several months as well as the needs we anticipate through the summer and into the new school year,” said Jason Wucher, Executive Director of Communications for Waco ISD.

“Texas did purchase quite a lot of supplies, and those will be arriving at Bryan ISD on August 1st, so we are equipped with face masks, shields, disinfectants, some gloves, a lot of supplies that will get us through at least maybe the first month or six weeks,”said Whitbeck.

If Governor Abbott’s executive order for the requirement of facial coverings is still in effect, all school districts must abide by this rule and will need to come up with a plan to enforce this rule.

The TEA says that due to the nature of the pandemic, parents and educators could see some campuses close for brief periods during the upcoming school year.