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Dohn Larson, TCTA's director of legal services, reviews the laws regarding resignations and debunks several myths in our six-part video series. TCTA continues to urge the commissioner to issue guidance related to the circumstances under which an educator has good cause to abandon their contract so that teachers will be allowed to resign from their contracts if appropriate to avoid exposure to COVID-19.

TCTA staff and leadership are closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on Texas schools. We've compiled answers to many of the questions our members are asking about COVID-19. The following FAQs also are available to non-members to help all educators navigate this unprecedented time. The FAQs are updated as new guidance emerges from federal, state and local officials.

Click here for our resources about teaching online. Click here for our summary of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides paid leave for employees. Click here for information about the CARES Act, which adds funds for education.

We encourage TCTA members with specific questions to call our Legal Department at 888-879-8282 for assistance. Members with general inquiries can submit them through the Ask-a-Lawyer portal.

After receiving 89 comments, including TCTA’s, on a funding priority proposed in April, the U.S. Department of Education recently announced the finalization of its plans to provide teachers with a stipend to self select professional development. The final plans incorporate suggestions made by TCTA. 

If you’re confused about how and when schools can open for the upcoming school year, you’re not alone. Guidance from the state has been inconsistent throughout this summer, and it can be hard to keep up. Here’s where things stand — as of today (July 30, 2020)

TCTA State President Twila Read is an advocate for students and educators. But she resisted the call to serve. Growing up in Dumas, Texas, Read’s parents were educators. Her mom taught prekindergarten and her dad was a teacher and coach before he transitioned into city management. But Read had no intention of following in their footsteps. But she changed her mind in college and spent 17 years teaching middle school social studies and English in Grand Prairie ISD before finding her calling as a school guidance counselor.

Do you have whiplash yet? Yet another decision has been made at the state level that will result in schools opening for in-person instruction even if a local health authority has ordered closure. The legal guidance by Attorney General Ken Paxton reverses earlier guidance from the Texas Education Agency providing that districts would be eligible to receive state funding for remote instruction if they were operating remotely due to a local health order. TCTA is appalled by this action and continues to push for districts to rely solely on scientific data and local health authority guidance when deciding to reopen schools.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced July 27 that the grade promotion requirement related to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test for students in grades 5 and 8 has been waived for the upcoming school year. Typically, school systems must take into account a student’s score on the STAAR test to determine whether the student can be promoted to the next grade level.

After releasing phases 1 and 2 of the Texas Home Learning Model in the spring, TEA is making available an overview of Phase 3. The optional, freely accessible THL 3.0 will be launched in August for the 2020-2021 school year to create multiple home learning models that meet specific district needs and allow for contingency planning during school closures. Similar to earlier phases, the website has comprehensive, digitized, custom learning plans and instructional materials for grades Pre-K through high school. Educators can use fully or in-part these curriculum, technology, and professional development resources to support continuity between remote and in-classroom environments and to help address the “COVID-19 slide.”

Comptroller Glenn Hegar informed lawmakers this week that the revenue estimate for the current biennium, which lasts through August 2021, is $11.5 billion lower than was predicted last October. Federal stimulus funding has helped mitigate the shortfall. Also, local property appraisal values continue to rise, which benefits the state because it will have to pay out less to school districts. There was also an upswing in online sales tax revenues. Taking those factors into account, the current shortfall comes to $4.6 billion.

New guidance from the Texas Education Agency on Friday, July 17, gives districts more flexibility to offer remote-only instruction to start the school year safely in areas where there are high numbers of COVID-19 cases.