After issuing orders on April 17, April 27 and May 5 for Texas schools to be closed to in-person classroom attendance through the end of the 2019-20 school year, Gov. Greg Abbott announced on May 18 that his latest Executive Order will allow in-person summer school starting on June 1, subject to TEA's School Operation, Summer Instruction, Activities and School Visit Guidance.

Until then, schools must comply with TEA’s Minimum Standard Health Protocols During Campus Closures when allowing school employees into facilities. Public education teachers and staff are encouraged to continue to work remotely from home if possible, but may return to school for video instruction, to perform administrative duties, and/or to clean out their classrooms.

In addition, until schools can re-open for summer school as of June 1, a student (accompanied by an adult if needed) may, as allowed by the school consistent with the minimum standard health protocols, visit campus (a) for limited non-instructional administrative tasks such as cleaning out lockers, collecting personal belongings, and returning school items like band instruments and books; or (b) for graduating seniors, to complete post-secondary requirements that cannot be accomplished absent access to the school facility and its resources, excluding any activity or assessment which can be done virtually. 

Districts are handling the situation differently, and teachers have questions about issues ranging from curriculum and appraisals to paychecks.

The answers to questions we've compiled do not constitute legal advice. The situation is changing rapidly, and key factors will differ from school district to school district. This information will be updated as new details emerge, but we encourage TCTA members with specific questions to call our staff attorneys at 888-879-8282. Members with general inquiries can submit them through the Ask-a-Lawyer portal.

What's New (5/26/20): We updated information about the CARES Act (click here). We added information about reading diagnostic instruments (click here, see Student Issues #8). We added information about teacher contracts (click here see Employment Compensation #7) and added a section about funding to our Future Education Issues FAQ (click here). 

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.

In the sections below, you'll see dates next to each question noting when answers were posted and/or updated to help you stay informed.

Employment/Personnel Issues

Click here to see the answers to the questions below.

Unemployment benefits

  1. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits? (posted 3/23/20)
  2. Are at-will employees eligible for unemployment benefits? (posted 3/20/20)

Federal action on paid leave

  1. I heard Congress passed coronavirus legislation, what’s in it? (posted 3/20/20, updated 3/25/20) [Click here for a PDF summary of all three bills related to COVID-19 response and relief.]

Employment compensation/days of performance

  1. Can a district pay employees to remain isolated at home to self-quarantine? (posted 3/20/20, updated 3/25/20)
  2. Has TEA said anything about employee pay? (posted 3/20/20)
  3. Can a district continue paying paraprofessionals and other employees subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act? (posted 3/20/20, updated 3/25/20)
  4. Can a school district continue to pay salary and hourly-wage staff who are paid with federal grant funds that are on administrative leave or who are teleworking while the school district is closed due to COVID-19? (posted 3/30/20)
  5. Can a board stop paying instructional employees who are on Chapter 21 contracts? (posted 3/20/20)
  6. Can a district cut a contract employee’s pay? (posted 3/20/20)
  7. If a district chooses to operate school for longer than a 10-month period by starting earlier than planned and/or by ending school later than planned, do the district’s teachers who have already signed contracts with that district for the school year now subject to adjustment have to work the days that exceed a 10-month period and, depending on the terms of the contracts at issue, the minimum 187 days of teacher service? (posted 5/26/20)
  8. If a charter school suspends operations, would the teachers and staff be paid for that time? (posted 5/13/20)
  9. Can a district add days of performance or extend required employee days? (posted 3/20/20)
  10. Depending on the length of school closures for students, must the board adjust the calendar to provide for 187 days of performance for a teacher? (posted 3/20/20)
  11. Can districts use federal grant funds to pay employee salaries for staff who were not previously paid with federal funds, who are now conducting grant responsibilities due to COVID-19? (posted 4/22/30)
  12. How will districts document extra-duty pay for tutors (i.e., teachers outside their normal contracted hours) when student sign-in sheets are not available? (posted 4/22/20)
  13. May federal funds be used for supplemental pay for districts to have additional assistance with administering the LAS Links Assessment for reclassification purposes? (posted 4/22/20)
  14. Can ESSA federal funds pay for paraprofessionals to obtain teacher certification? Is there any additional flexibility in this area? (posted 4/22/20)
  15. I’m in a district that has a merit pay plan based in part on student test scores. How will my district evaluate teachers now that STAAR testing has been canceled? (posted 3/20/20)
  16. What do I do if my district directs me to participate in a graduation ceremony or otherwise return to my school building and my health puts me at risk for contracting COVID-19? (posted 5/6/20; updated 5/19/20)

Certification and Appraisal

  1. Will certification requirements for special education personnel be extended or waived for the 2020-21 school year due to cancelation of certification tests by TEA? (posted 4/8/20)
  2. Is TEA waiving certification renewal requirements right now? (posted 3/25/20)
  3. Are current educators who have been serving on an emergency permit and who have been unable to test eligible for an extension of that emergency permit? (posted 4//29/20; updated 5/8/20)
  4. Will TEA extend the Texas one-year certificate for out-of-state educators who have been unable to obtain a standard certificate because of COVID-19? (posted 4/15/20)
  5. How will Texas handle the review of out-of-state credentials this year, given the effects of COVID-19 and its impact on testing and certification? (posted 5/13/20)
  6. Has educator certification testing been impacted by COVID-19? (posted 4/17/20; updated 5/8/20)
  7. Will there be any consideration given to providing some flexibility for currently certified teachers who are trying to add a certification? (posted 5/8/20)
  8. What about edTPA testing for candidates enrolled in educator preparation programs? (posted 4/29/30)
  9. What about requirements for certification for candidates currently enrolled in educator preparation programs (EPPs)? (posted 4/24/20)
  10. Has the requirement for prekindergarten teachers to have an “additional qualification” for High Quality Pre-K been changed due to COVID-19? (posted 4/24/20)
  11. Will I still receive an appraisal this year? (posted 3/25/20; updated 4/17/20)
  12. Do educator appraisal waivers have to be approved by site-based committees before getting approved by the board? (posted 4/15/20; updated 4/17/20)
  13. Will all districts follow the same T-TESS procedures this year? (posted 4/17/20)
  14. Can superintendents adjust appraisal rules? (posted 4/17/20)
  15. If my district gets a waiver, does that mean I will not have an evaluation this year? (posted 4/17/20)
  16. Are we supposed to be getting our annual summative T-TESS conference right now? (posted 4/17/20)
  17. If I have not received any appraisal information, can my appraiser still hold a summative conference? (posted 4/17/20)
  18. If I got an observation summary in November, can my appraiser use that for my summative appraisal without any walkthroughs or other records? (posted 4/17/20)
  19. I received a walkthrough in October, but no other appraisal records. Can my appraiser use that for my summative? (posted 4/17/20)
  20. Can I have a summative conference online? (posted 4/17/20)
  21. Can I receive my appraisal documentation online? (posted 4/17/20)
  22. If I disagree with an appraisal document, how can I object? (posted 4/17/20)
  23. What happens if the district does not complete my appraisal in whole or in part? (posted 4/17/20)
  24. How will school closures affect appraisal systems that support financial rewards for teachers based on student performance? (posted 4/17/20)
  25. How will school closures affect the student growth component of T-TESS? (posted 4/17/20)

School Closure Issues

Click here to see the answers to the questions below.

  1. Has TEA waived the 75,600-minute requirement given the governor’s executive order on April 17 that closed school classrooms for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year? (posted 4/22/20)
  2. Can a board add minutes to the school day for students to make up for lost days? (posted 3/20/20; updated 3/26/20)
  3. Is a charter school subject to local health board orders related to opening or closing? (posted 5/13/20)
  4. What is the procedure to notify TEA about a Charter School decision to suspend operations due to COVID-19? (posted 5/13/20)
  5. How can parents, teachers, or students express concerns related to the COVID response at a charter school? (posted 5/13/20)
  6. How will districts take attendance for students that were participating in the Optional Flexible School Day Program (OFSDP) but are now receiving online/distance learning provided by the district while the campuses are closed? (posted 4/22/20)
  7. If we had early release days built into our calendar, should those early release days remain while the district is offering online instruction? (posted 5/4/20)
  8. Is there any guidance to help districts that are having trouble locating certain students who are not participating in continuing instruction during the COVID-19 school closures? (posted 5/4/20)
  9. President Trump and Gov. Abbott (and in some cases local officials) want to limit groups from gathering, can the school district make teachers meet? (posted 3/20/20; updated 5/19/20)

A NOTE OF CAUTION: There are security and privacy concerns surrounding remote services and software, so teachers should read this before setting up a system for online learning.

Instruction During School Closure

Click here to see the answers to the questions below. Click here for more about instructional continuity for special education students.

  1. Can a district require teachers to work from home (or from school) and instruct students online or prepare paper packets to be distributed along with meals? (posted 3/20/20)
  2. If I get called to go in to school, to, for example, plan online instruction or prepare and distribute instructional packets to parents, must I comply? What if I don’t feel safe? (posted 3/20/20)
  3. May parents travel from their homes to pick up distance learning packets and/or meals from public school facilities? (posted 4/3/20)
  4. Are there any rules or guidelines on how to keep safe while we’re packing and distributing education packets? (posted 3/24/20)
  5. Can an employee who is immune-compromised or is otherwise at risk for severe complications of COVID-19 decline to report to work? (posted 3/24/20)
  6. Can an employee decline to report to work due to a lack of childcare for their own children resulting from school closures? (posted 3/24/20; updated 4/9/20)
  7. What resources are there for helping me teach my classes remotely? (posted 3/20/20; updated 5/4/20)
  8. What is the role teachers play in either the online or printed version of the Texas Home Learning Model, including grading? (posted 4/16/20)
  9. Which TEKS and high school courses are covered by the Texas Home Learning Model? (posted 4/16/20)
  10. What special populations are covered by the Texas Home Learning Model? (posted 4/16/20)
  11. Are there additional resources for the summer and future to prepare students for the next academic year? (posted 4/16/20; updated 5/4/20)
  12. Has the commissioner addressed procedures for continuing education during school closures? (posted 3/20/20; updated 5/4/20)
  13. What can I do for my students who don’t have Internet access and/or appropriate technology to do home-based education? (updated 3/23/20)
  14. If I work from home and use my own technology, do my communications with students, parents, and others create public records and make me a temporary custodian of public records subject to the Texas Public Information Act? (posted 3/20/20)
  15. Can my district require me to share my cellphone or home phone number with students and parents while we work from home? (posted 3/30/20)
  16. How can I ensure privacy and security while I’m teaching remotely? (posted 3/24/20)
  17. What are the federal student privacy law considerations when providing virtual instruction? (posted 4/6/20)
  18. Do virtual classrooms violate the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act? (posted 3/27/20)
  19. May non-students observe a virtual lesson? (posted 4/6/20)
  20. May a teacher record virtual classes and share the recording with students who are unable to attend? (posted 4/6/20)

Click here for our page of resources for teaching online.

Special Populations Instruction During School Closure

Click here to see the answers to the questions below. Click here for more about instructional continuity for special education students.

  1. If a district or charter closes for an extended period of time, must the district provide ESL or bilingual services for English language learners? (posted 3/24/20; updated 4/22/20)
  2. What adjustments to the LPAC responsibilities are available for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year? (posted 4/6/20)
  3. Are LPACs required to complete the identification process within the four calendar weeks of the students’ initial enrollment during school closures? (posted 4/6/20)
  4. Can some grade levels or student groups have different reclassification criteria? (posted 4/6/20; updated 4/8/20)
  5. What assistance is provided to districts who opt to use the LAS Links assessment for reclassification in the 2019-20 school year? (posted 4/8/20)
  6. What if we are unable to complete all four domains of TELPAS? (posted 4/6/20)
  7. May federal funds be used for supplemental pay for districts to have additional assistance with administering the LAS Links Assessment for reclassification purposes? (posted 4/22/20)
  8. If a district or charter provides for students in regular education classes to continue instruction online or through paper packets, must the district or charter also provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) for special education and 504 students? (posted 3/23/20; updated 4/22/20)
  9. Should school districts continue to provide services or conduct evaluation activities during mandatory school closures or shelter in place orders? (posted 3/26/20; updated 5/6/20)
  10. How does the governor’s order to close schools for the remainder of the school year impact district requirements such as sending out notifications about cameras in special education classrooms? (posted 5/6/20)
  11. If a district or charter closes for an extended period of time to address the COVID-19 outbreak, must the district provide services for students protected by IDEA or Section 504? (posted 3/20/20; updated 4/8/20)
  12. How should districts handle situations in which family members do not respond to communications or respond to families who have indicated that they will not be able facilitate the distance learning options being offered? (posted 4/24/20)
  13. Are school districts required to continue services to students identified, and receiving services for dyslexia and currently being served by special education or under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973? (posted 4/20/20)
  14. Is there guidance on providing occupational and physical therapy to students while schools are closed? (posted 4/17/20)
  15. Is there guidance on providing speech language therapy services to students while schools are closed? (posted 4/17/20)
  16. Should school districts continue to provide services to students served by special education who are already receiving homebound services due to a significant health concern? (posted 3/26/20)
  17. Can a school district provide a learning environment at the school or designated site for students who cannot have their learning needs met virtually? (posted 4/8/20)
  18. What flexibility do LEAs have in the process required to adjust an individual student’s existing IEP in times of emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic? (posted 3/23/20)
  19. If a student has been referred for potential special education eligibility and school has closed, are the federal/state required timelines for evaluation still in effect? (posted 3/24/20)
  20. Are school districts still held to the 30 calendar day timeline requirements regarding initial eligibility determination, IEP, and placement decision ARD committee meetings upon completion of a Full and Individual Initial Evaluation in times of emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic? (posted 3/24/20, updated 4/6/20)
  21. Should ARD committees move forward with special education eligibility decisions if a Full and Individual Initial Evaluation (FIIE) has not yet been completed due to concerns over the current COVID-19 pandemic response? (posted 3/26/20)
  22. What if a student’s annual Admission Review and Dismissal (ARD) date is not met due to school closures or other COVID-19 pandemic response related issues? (posted 3/24/20; updated 4/6/20)
  23. What if the members of the ARD committee disagree about an IEP? (posted 4/6/20)
  24. If an ARD committee had begun the process of evaluating a student for exit from special education services prior to school closures, but is not able to complete the evaluation due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic response, are they allowed to move forward with exiting a student without completing the evaluation? (posted 5/8/20)
  25. Is there any guidance on providing extended school year services for special education students? (posted 5/14/20)
  26. What about compensatory services? (posted 5/14/20)
  27. What resources are there to help with supporting at-home Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) intervention? (posted 4/8/20)
  28. If school districts changed their grading system to pass/fail, how will school districts comply with progress reporting requirements for students with IEPs? (posted 4/8/20; updated 4/16/20)

Click here for our page of resources for teaching online.

TEA COVID-19 Support & Guidance

Click here to see the answers to the questions below.

  1. What resources has the commissioner provided? (posted 3/20/20, resources added 4/6/20)
  2. Are there any resources by region? (posted 4/2/20)
  3. Will the Reading Academies schedule be impacted? (posted 3/30/20)

Student issues

  1. Are districts required to continue identifying gifted/talented students during school closures due to COVID-19? (posted 4/16/20)
  2. Are school districts required to continue the selection process for GT placement? (posted 4/16/20)
  3. Has TEA provided guidance for discipline and dress code for students in a virtual learning environment? (posted 4/2/20)
  4. Will students with outstanding (incomplete) MANDATORY discipline actions be required to fulfill them? (posted 5/6/20)
  5. Has TEA provided guidance for DAEP students? (posted 5/6/20)
  6. Must students meet the 90% attendance rule in order to pass a class this semester? (posted 3/20/20)
  7. What about tracking student attendance while students are receiving remote instruction during school closures? (posted 4/1/20)
  8. What about student assessment/grade level promotion/graduation requirements? (posted 3/20/20; updated 5/20/20) NOTE: This question contains information about TELPAS, STAAR, progress monitoring, reading diagnostics, end-of-year and beginning-of-year assessments and graduation.
  9. Has TEA provided guidance on grading? (posted 4/22/20)
  10. If school districts changed their grading system to pass/fail, how will school districts comply with progress reporting requirements for students with IEPs? (posted 4/8/20)
  11. What about AP classes and exams? (posted 3/24/20; updated 4/8/20)
  12. What about college preparation assessments, including the SAT/ACT, Texas Success Initiative Assessment and International Baccalaureate examinations? (posted 4/8/20; updated 4/27/20)
  13. What about dual credit summer enrollment? (posted 4/24/20)
  14. What do we do if a graduating senior was scheduled to meet the requirement that students receive hands-on CPR instruction this spring? (posted 4/22/20)
  15. What should districts do regarding the off-campus physical activity substitution for the physical education graduation requirement? (posted 5/4/20)
  16. What about the required physical fitness assessment through FitnessGram? (posted 3/30/20)
  17. Are there resources on behavioral support services? (posted 4/6/20)
  18. Has TEA provided guidance for pregnancy-related services? (posted 4/16/20)

Accountability/school improvement

  1. How will TEA handle accountability ratings for this school year? (posted 4/3/20)
  2. How will a Not-Rated: Declared State of Disaster rating in 2019-20 affect the data used in the calculation of 2020-21 accountability? (posted 4/17/20)
  3. How will the Not-Rated accountability rating affect schools identified for school improvement? (posted 4/3/20)
  4. What school improvement interventions will be required for the remainder of the school year? (posted 4/3/20)
  5. Is there any funding for districts to help their Targeted Support and Improvement campuses be able to provide instructional continuity? (posted 4/3/20)

Future Education Issues, Summer and 2020-21

Click here to see the answer to the questions below.

  1. Have there been announcements and/or guidance on summer school operations? (posted 5/4/20; updated 5/19/20)
  2. Is there any guidance on how school districts may handle possible interruptions in the 2020-21 school year due to COVID-19, including adjusting school calendars? (posted 5/14/20)
  3. Is there guidance regarding adding school days? (posted 5/14/20)
  4. Do student/teacher ratio rules still apply during additional calendar days? (posted 5/14/20)
  5. How should districts account for teachers’ minimum salary schedule if days are added to the calendar? (posted 5/14/20)
  6. Do participating districts give grades for additional days? (posted 5/14/20)
  7. If a charter school decides to change to a year-round calendar, will it be required to submit a non-expansion amendment? (posted 5/13/20)
  8. Is there any guidance on providing extended school year services for special education students? (posted 5/14/20)
  9. How are extended school year services defined? (posted 5/14/20)
  10. How are ESY services determined? (posted 5/14/20)
  11. What considerations should be given to summer 2020 ESY services? (posted 5/14/20)
  12. How are ESY decisions impacted once schools resume in 2020-2021? (posted 5/14/20)
  13. What about compensatory services? (posted 5/14/20)
  14. How is the need for compensatory services determined? (posted 5/14/20)
  15. Will certification requirements for special education personnel be extended or waived for the 2020-21 school year due to cancelation of certification tests by TEA? (posted 4/8/20)

Funding

  1. Can migrant funds be expended to implement the summer program via distance learning? (posted 5/4/20)
  2. Will our schools have enough money next year or are we going to have widespread budget cuts and/or reductions in force (RIFs)? (posted 3/20/20; updated 5/14/20)
  3. What funding is available under the federal CARES Act? (posted 5/26/20)
  4. Where can I find the ESSER grant entitlement amounts available through the federal CARES Act that my district will receive and what are the terms? (posted 5/26/20)
  5. Will the ESSER funding (CARES Act) allow districts to pay for the direct costs incurred for planning and mitigation of the coronavirus pandemic such as, but not limited to, additional technology, hot spots for internet service, costs of distance learning, and cleaning of buildings to include staff time and supplies? (posted 5/26/20)
  6. Is there TEA guidance on ESSER funding (CARES Act) and paying district employees and contractors? (posted 5/26/20)
  7. Will receiving ESSER (CARES Act) formula funds result in a loss of Foundation School Program (FSP) State Aid? (posted 5/26/20)
  8. Will there be proration in the Foundation School Program for either the 2019-20 or the 2020-21 school year? (posted 5/26/20)
  9. Besides the ESSER grant, does CARES Act provide any other assistance to reimburse districts for COVID-19 related expenditures? (posted 5/26/20)
  10. How much reimbursement can we anticipate receiving under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act)? (posted 5/26/20)
  11. What is the timeline for requesting the reimbursement under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act)? (posted 5/26/20)
  12. What costs are allowable to be reimbursed under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act)? (posted 5/26/20)
  13. Are there unallowable costs under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act)? (posted 5/26/20)

TCTA members with specific questions should call our staff attorneys at 888-879-8282. Members with general inquiries can submit them through the Ask-a-Lawyer portal.