TEA issues safety guidelines for on-campus instruction during 2020-21 school year
The Texas Education Agency has released further guidance and guidelines regarding the 2020-2021 school year. The guidelines prioritize health and safety while ensuring that students receive quality instruction, whether parents choose on-campus or in a remote learning environment.
“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.”
The main points emphasized in the TEA release were:
◦ Daily on-campus learning will be available to all parents who would like their students to learn in school each day.
- In addition, all parents will have the option to choose remote learning for their children, initially, or at any point as the year progresses. Parents who choose remote instruction for their students may be asked to commit to remote instruction for a full grading period (e.g. 6 or 9 weeks), but will not have to make that commitment more than two weeks in advance, so they can make a decision based on the latest public health information.
◦ Health and safety procedures will be in place to support student and teacher safety.
- Some health procedures are mandated for every school in the state. For example, all students, teachers, staff, and visitors coming to campus must be screened before being allowed on campus. Consistent with the Governor’s most recent executive order, and assuming that order is still in place, masks will be required while in school buildings, with certain exceptions made, as noted in the order. Schools will also be required to follow any forthcoming executive orders issued by the Governor.
- Additional health procedures are recommended for every school that can reasonably implement those procedures.
- 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, to ensure all appropriate health and safety procedures are fully in place.
◦ TEA is providing school systems with resources to ensure a strong start. This includes:
- Reimbursement for extra COVID-19-related expenses incurred during the 2019-20 school year;
- Tens of millions of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies provided to school systems at no cost to Texas schools;
- 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.
The release stated 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, additional changes could be made.
Last month, the Graham ISD school board approved changes to the GISD 2020-2021 school calendar to prepare for additional missed days to COVID-19. The district start date was changed from Aug. 24 to Aug. 17. Additionally, 10 minutes were added to school day for each GISD campus. Nov. 23-24, Dec. 21-22 and March 15-16 were determined as COVID makeup days or staff and student holidays if the district does not need to miss days in the fall due to COVID-19.
On June 23, the TEA sent out guidelines for the two methods of learning that will be available when the school year begins. Those methods were Remote Synchronous Instruction and Remote Asynchronous Instruction. GISD Superintendent Sonny Cruse also sent a survey to parents to determine which learning method GISD parents preferred for their students.
Additional information regarding the TEA's health guidance can be found at https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/covid/covid19-SY-20-21-Public-....