This page was updated on May 19, 2020. 

  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)

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.

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?

According to TEA’s April 21 Attendance and Enrollment FAQ, this requirement has not been waived. Districts are expected to continue educating students through the end of their 75,600-minute compliant, board-approved calendar year, and districts will need to apply for a missed school day waiver for each day they are closed due to COVID-19. Governor Abbott’s executive order closed education in classrooms for the rest of the year; however, in order to receive funding, districts are still expected to provide remote instructional support through the remainder of the school year.

2. Can a board add minutes to the school day for students to make up for lost days?

A board can extend the length of the instructional day to provide a total of 75,600 minutes to make up for lost or expected losses of student days. Most district calendars include two bad weather makeup days that would be used for lost instructional days. The school district may seek additional minute waivers from the agency in order to meet the 75,600 operational minute requirement. Those waivers would be granted as long as the district commits to supporting students instructionally while at home. An attestation regarding instructional support will be required to be submitted with a Missed School Day waiver. For more information, click here.

3. Is a charter school subject to local health board orders related to opening or closing?

Yes. Local decisions related to isolation and quarantine must be followed.

4. What is the procedure to notify TEA about a Charter School decision to suspend operations due to COVID-19?

According to TEA’s guidance, Charter School FAQ (updated 5/12/20), 19 TAC §100.1213 requires charter schools to continuously operate during the school year unless a notification to parents has been sent and a request to the commissioner has been submitted and approved notifying them that no instruction is being offered and the school is closing until further notice. Charter schools were excluded from the need to file the advance notification to parents outlined in TAC §100.1213, and did not have to file a dormancy amendment with the commissioner; rather, the charter school should have provided notification of the suspension of operations to both disasterinfo@tea.texas.gov and the Charter School Authorizing and Administration Division at charterschools@tea.texas.gov. Charter schools did not need to apply for the waiver of these provisions. Please note that if a charter school suspended operations prior to meeting their minutes/instructional day requirements, funding could be impacted. Any closure of charter school that is not COVID-19 related must still follow the notification provisions outlined in 19 TAC §100.1213.

5. How can parents, teachers, or students express concerns related to the COVID response at a charter school?

According to TEA’s guidance, Charter School FAQ (updated 5/12/20), all complaints should still go through the steps outlined in a charter school’s process for handling complaints. If the school has a grievance process laid out in its student and parent handbook, those steps should be followed. Individuals will typically initiate the process with the principal of the campus, and if a satisfactory resolution is not reached, the complaint will continue through the levels outlined in the school’s complaint process. Specific contact information for an individual charter school can be obtained by contacting the Charter School Authorizing and Administration Division directly by phone at 512-463-9575 or via email at CharterSchools@tea.texas.gov. Please note that the agency only has jurisdiction over certain complaints; matters of local policy are not within the jurisdiction of the agency. To file a formal complaint to TEA about public school district or public charter school actions and/or educator misconduct, you must allege in writing that a school district, charter school, and/or a certified educator has violated a law or rule within the jurisdiction of TEA. Refer to the complaint process of Division of Compliance & Inquiries for more information, forms and contacts. Parents of special education students with concerns about special education rights can file their complaints directly with the TEA. Refer to the Division of Special Populations complaint process for more information, forms, and contacts for filing a special education-related complaint.

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?

According to TEA’s April 21 Attendance and Enrollment FAQ, for districts/campuses that are “Closed, Instructing,” districts with students that were participating in the OFDSP will not be required to track minutes and should not report minutes of instruction for the 5th six-week reporting period. Schools in this situation will still need to submit an attestation indicating how OFSDP students are being served and supported.

7. If we had early release days built into our calendar, should those early release days remain while the district is offering online instruction?

According to TEA’s Attendance and Enrollment FAQ (updated 4/30/20), districts should only report an early release day, or shortened day, if they reduced the amount of instructional support for that day by making teachers unavailable to students. In most cases, districts are offering full instructional days during the closure period even if they had a previously scheduled early release day built into their calendar. In either case, districts should document attendance as if they were “Closed, Instructing.” If districts meet the 75,600-minute requirement, early release days will not impact funding during the closure period.

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?

An uncontactable student is a student in a school district or charter school who has not participated in continuing instruction and for whom the district has made multiple efforts to contact to no avail. TEA’s Uncontactable Student FAQ and Guidance (updated 4/30/20), addresses common questions and best practices.

If the student’s teacher is unable to contact a student, typically efforts are escalated and administrators attempt to contact all persons listed on the student's contact list. Administrators will work with teachers who may know friends of the student and attempt to contact those individuals to see if they know the whereabouts of the uncontactable student. Attempts to contact students also can be made using social media. When these efforts fail, some districts have success conducting home visits, contacting neighbors or asking apartment managers for assistance in locating the student and their family.

For daily teacher contact with students, teachers and staff should be supplied with scripts for initial conversations with parents and students. For example, when talking with students, the scripts begin with an affirmation telling them they are missed, and then contain prompts regarding how to inquire about supports they might need to stay engaged in school. Every time they reach a student, the educator should log notes about the call in a secure database — for example, if a student is having problems connecting to online learning or if a family member lost a job putting the family into further crisis. Subsequently, counselors, principals and case managers should use such notations to connect the families to additional support resources.

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?

The president has issued guidelines and recommendations; however, they are not binding on school districts, nor do they supersede teacher contract terms or district policies. Gov. Greg Abbott ordered Texas schools closed to in-person classroom attendance through the end of the school year. Many educators have expressed concerns about being directed to attend school meetings in large groups. Those directives appear to clearly disregard the advice of health officials, the CDC, the president, the governor, local leaders, TEA commissioner, and a common-sense approach to mitigating transmission risks.

As of May 5, TEA has provided Minimum Standard Health Protocols for School Employees in School Building During Campus Closures. School employees may go into the classroom for video instruction, to perform administrative duties, and/or to clean out their classrooms. Where possible, school employees should continue to work remotely, and if they can’t do so, they should follow the parameters outlined in TEA’s guidance. This guidance includes:

  • Employees' time at schools should be staggered to enable social distancing to be implemented effectively.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet separation from other individuals not within the same household.
  • If such distancing is not feasible, other measures such as face covering, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness and sanitation should be rigorously practiced.
  • Consider having all employees wear cloth face coverings.
  • Screen all school employees before they access a school facility for new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19.

You may find a list of signs/symptoms of COVID-19, and additional protocols here.

On May 18, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Executive Order GA-23 will allow resumption of classes for students for summer school starting on June 1 subject to TEA's School Operation, Summer Instruction, Activities and School Visit Guidance.

Click here to return to the main COVID-19 FAQ page.