This page was updated on July 9, 2020.

  1. Have there been announcements and/or guidance on planning for reopening schools in the fall? (posted 6/24/20; updated 7/8/20)
  2. Have there been announcements and/or guidance on summer school operations? (posted 5/4/20; updated 7/9/20)
  3. Is there public health guidance available for summer school instruction as well as for the 20-21 school year? (posted 7/9/20)
  4. What about public health guidance for attendance and enrollment? (posted 7/9/20)
  5. What about public health guidance to prevent the virus from entering the schools? (posted 7/9/20)
  6. What guidance is available for individuals who are confirmed or suspected with COVID-19? (posted 7/9/20)
  7. Is there guidance on masks/face coverings? (posted 7/9/20)
  8. How about guidance on social distancing? (posted 7/9/20)
  9. Is there public health guidance for visits to schools? (posted 7/9/20)
  10. What about public health guidance for staffing and meetings? (posted 7/9/20)
  11. Is the state doing anything about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for students and staff? (posted 6/11/20; updated 6/23/20)
  12. Is there guidance on training and conditioning activities that are non-UIL activities? (posted 6/11/20)
  13. Is there any guidance regarding how students will attend school during the 2020-21 school year? (posted 7/9/20)
  14. Can the school district establish a phased return to on-campus instruction to ensure its public health procedures are fully up and running? (posted 7/9/20)
  15. If one of our campuses (or my entire school district) closes because of a confirmed positive case of COVID-19, can my school district decide to simply switch over to 100% remote instruction for the rest of the school year for that campus (or for my entire school district)? (posted 7/9/20)
  16. Can a school district decide to only offer remote instruction for a campus, or for all of the campuses? (posted 7/9/20)
  17. Can parents be required to commit to remote or on campus instruction? (posted 7/9/20)
  18. If we believe that a student would be better served via one of the remote instructional methods instead of via on-campus instruction, can my school district require that student to stay home to receive remote instruction? (posted 7/9/20)
  19. Can a school district offering a hybrid on campus and remote instructional model (on and off campus on varying days/weeks) for different groups of students in several grades require students to participate in this hybrid model? (posted 7/9/20)
  20. Can school districts require a student to come on campus to complete assignments for certain electives while the student is being served through one of the remote instruction methods? (posted 7/9/20)
  21. Can school districts prevent a student from attending an on-campus lesson that is required for course credit if the student has chosen a remote instructional method? (posted 7/9/20)
  22. Can school districts prohibit students who have chosen to receive all their instruction through a remote instruction method from participating in extracurricular activities? (posted 7/9/20)
  23. What remote instruction options are available in 2020-21? (posted 6/24/20; updated 7/7/20)
  24. How will attendance be taken and funding generated when using the synchronous instruction method? (posted 6/24/20; updated 7/2/20)
  25. How will attendance be taken and funding generated when using the asynchronous instruction method? (posted 6/24/20)
  26. Is synchronous instruction for PK-2 prohibited? (posted 7/2/20)
  27. What kind of accountability will be in place for these two methods of instruction? (posted 6/24/20)
  28. Can a district use remote instruction for students who are absent for ANY reason, (even something other than COVID-19 absences) and receive funding? (posted 7/2/20)
  29. Will at-home parent-led instruction count toward a district’s instructional minute requirements as part of either remote instruction method? (posted 7/2/20)
  30. If a student who is originally scheduled to receive instruction through the synchronous instructional method is not present at the designated official attendance time, could the student still be marked present for the day by engaging through the remote asynchronous method? (posted 7/2/20)
  31. 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; updated 5/26/20)
  32. Is there guidance regarding adding school days? (posted 5/14/20)
  33. Do student/teacher ratio rules still apply during additional calendar days? (posted 5/14/20)
  34. How should districts account for teachers’ minimum salary schedule if days are added to the calendar? (posted 5/14/20)
  35. Do participating districts give grades for additional days? (posted 5/14/20)
  36. How will remote instruction in 2020-21 affect ADSY eligibility and half day requirements? (posted 7/9/20)
  37. 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)
  38. Is there flexibility for completing the 2019-20 bilingual education and ESL summer school requirements for English learners entering kindergarten and grade 1? (posted 5/28/20)
  39. What methods of delivery are permissible for meeting the requirement of 120 hours of instruction for EL summer school? (posted 5/28/20)
  40. What are factors to consider within the various methods of delivery regarding the student to teacher ratio (not to exceed 18:1) requirement for EL summer school? (posted 5/28/20)
  41. How should districts determine the best way to meet the EL summer school requirement, given the state’s guidance on summer school? (posted 5/28/20)
  42. How will attendance be tracked for EL summer school participation? (posted 5/28/20)
  43. Is there any guidance on providing extended school year services for special education students? (posted 5/14/20)
  44. How are extended school year services defined? (posted 5/14/20)
  45. How are ESY services determined? (posted 5/14/20)
  46. What considerations should be given to summer 2020 ESY services? (posted 5/14/20)
  47. How are ESY decisions impacted once schools resume in 2020-21? (posted 5/14/20)
  48. What about compensatory services? (posted 5/14/20)
  49. How is the need for compensatory services determined? (posted 5/14/20)
  50. 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)

Special populations

  1. What actions should be taken if a teacher who was on the district’s 2019-20 bilingual education exception or ESL waiver is unable to complete the appropriate certification? (posted 7/7/20)
  2. What are the priority Language Proficiency Assessment Committee duties for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year? (posted 7/7/20)
  3. What continued adjustments to the LPAC responsibilities are available during the 2020-21 school year? (posted 7/7/20)
  4. With potential for on-campus and remote learning during the 2020-21 school year, are LPACs required to complete the English learner identification process within the required four calendar weeks of a student’s initial enrollment? (posted 7/7/20)
  5. Can a student be placed in a bilingual education or ESL program while English learner identification is pending? (posted 7/7/20)
  6. What if a student was unable to complete all four domains of the 2019-20 TELPAS? (posted 7/7/20)
  7. Can students within the same district have different 2019-20 EL reclassification criteria based on their situation? (posted 7/7/20)
  8. What assistance is provided to districts who opt to use the LAS Links Assessment for 2019-20 EL reclassification? (posted 7/7/20)

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. How will reimbursement be calculated for English Learners (EL) summer school? (posted 5/28/20)
  4. Will districts be reimbursed for technology and other necessary materials if the EL summer school requirement is offered virtually? (posted 5/28/20; updated 6/2/20)
  5. Is it allowable to use Title II, Part A grant funds to pay our teachers for our summer school program this year in light of COVID-19's disturbance to the regular academic schedule that could possibly lead to an increase in summer school attendance? (posted 6/1/20)
  6. What funding is available under the federal CARES Act? (posted 5/26/20; updated 6/18/20)
  7. 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)
  8. 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)
  9. Is there TEA guidance on ESSER funding (CARES Act) and paying district employees and contractors? (posted 5/26/20)
  10. Can a district pay for normal operating costs like utilities with ESSER grant money? (posted 6/18/20)
  11. We need to purchase masks for the graduation ceremony for graduates and staff. Would it be best to purchase graduation items (masks, etc.) with Title IV or a local budget and then reimburse the funding source when ESSER funds are available? (posted 6/1/20)
  12. Are there any grants available to provide internet service for our students? (posted 6/1/20)
  13. Will receiving ESSER (CARES Act) formula funds result in a loss of Foundation School Program (FSP) State Aid? (posted 5/26/20)
  14. Will there be proration in the Foundation School Program for either the 2019-20 or the 2020-21 school year? (posted 5/26/20)
  15. Is all this CARES Act money from the feds going to supplement ADA funding flows or is it only to reimburse specific expenditures by specific schools? (posted 6/1/20)
  16. Are we required to apply for the ESSER Grant? (posted 6/1/20)
  17. Is the ESSER grant separate and in addition to regular formula (FSP) funding? And then the regular formula (FSP) funding will be part FSP/part ESSER? (posted 6/1/20)
  18. How will the agency calculate Foundation School Program ADA funding for the 2019-20 school year given that schools won’t have daily attendance information for a large number of school days this year? (posted 6/1/20)
  19. When will districts find out the amount of the ESSER reduction to their refined ADA? (posted 6/1/20)
  20. Besides the ESSER grant, does CARES Act provide any other assistance to reimburse districts for COVID-19 related expenditures? (posted 5/26/20)
  21. How much reimbursement can we anticipate receiving under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act)? (posted 5/26/20)
  22. What is the timeline for requesting the reimbursement under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act)? (posted 5/26/20)
  23. What costs are allowable to be reimbursed under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act)? (posted 5/26/20)
  24. Is the cost of printing curriculum packets a reimbursable COVID-related expense? (posted 6/1/20)
  25. Are there unallowable costs under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act)? (posted 5/26/20)

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. Have there been announcements and/or guidance on planning for reopening schools in the fall? 

TEA released a framework to help districts plan for reopening schools next year, including the following components: reflection tool, survey resource, planning guidebook, sample district models, and sample school models. The reflection tool, survey resource and planning guidance have been posted, with sample district models and the sample school models expected by mid-July.

Click here to read more about the planning guidance.

The reflection tool helps districts develop their reopening strategy (e.g., school models, curriculum, schedule, teacher deployment, use of space, etc.). The tool offers a high-level checklist of action steps to set districts up for success as they conduct instructional and operational back-to-school planning this summer. It is organized into topics such as leadership, student performance, family engagement, technology, operations, academics, staffing, etc. which may be distributed to the appropriate functional group or role.

For each topic, the section is composed of two elements, a pre-planning checklist and a current state reflection. The checklist includes recommended immediate action steps and considerations to prepare for a successful launch of 2020-21. The current state reflection supports reflection on lessons learned from spring 2020 experience and implications for back-to-school planning for 2020-21.

The survey resource is intended to help districts develop their re-opening strategy (e.g., school models, curriculum, schedule, teacher deployment, use of space, etc.).

TEA suggests that school districts develop and conduct stakeholder surveys to collect feedback on both their experience with remote learning this spring, and their needs and concerns heading into the new school year. The survey resource includes questions for families/students, educators, and central office/administrative staff. TEA has also provided example surveys that can serve as an additional resource for school systems.

2. Have there been announcements and/or guidance on summer school operations?

On May 18, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that his Executive Order will allow resumption of classes for students for summer school starting on June 1 with appropriate social distancing and sanitation measures, subject to TEA's School Operation, Summer Instruction, Activities and School Visit Guidance (updated 7/7/20). TEA’s guidance provides that it is applicable to “in-school instruction and visits by students, teachers, and staff, starting June 1 as part of:

  • Summer learning options if offered by school systems, including
  • In-person summer school programs including staff and student participants
  • Virtual summer school programs, which may require some teachers to use school facilities to deliver instruction
  • Instructional activities that school systems would like to prioritize during the summer (e.g., special education evaluations, specialized assessments, individualized tutoring, etc.)
  • Administrative activities by teachers, staff, or students (e.g., locker clean out, return/retrieving band instruments, etc.)
  • Any other activities that teachers, staff, or students must complete and cannot be accomplished virtually

According to TEA’s guidance, in-person summer school must be optional for students; if any instruction is to be required for promotion or to obtain course credit, the district must allow students to satisfy requirements virtually. Distancing restrictions limit the number of people who may be in an enclosed area together on a regular basis, including students, teachers and other staff, to no more than 22. 

The TEA guidance also includes the following:

"Employees of school systems, like employees of any organization, must continue to meet the work expectations set by their employers, subject to any applicable employment contract terms. However, school systems will need to plan for increased teacher attrition and potential future illness. For teachers and staff members who are at particular risk, consider options to allow them to work remotely. Systems should consider hiring additional teachers to plan for these possibilities."

TCTA members should call our legal department at 888-879-8282 to speak with one of our staff attorneys if they have any questions about their obligations with regard to summer school duties. (Click here for more.)

3. Is there public health guidance available for summer school instruction as well as for the 20-21 school year?

On July 7, TEA made available SY 20-21 Public Health Guidance for summer school instruction ending the 2019-20 school year and to help support school systems in planning for the 2020-21 school year. The guidance takes effect immediately.

Included in the guidance are a number of recommendations and statements, including:

  • that school systems should consider stringently applying practices to adults on campuses, even when it might not be feasible to do so for students, to more fully protect adult teachers and staff who are generally at greater risk from COVID-19 than students;
  • that there will almost certainly be situations that necessitate temporary school closure due to positive COVID-19 cases in schools. Parents, educators, and school administrators should be prepared for this in the event that it occurs, while actively working to prevent it through prevention and mitigation practices;
  • that neither the public health guidance nor any local school systems’ reopening plans are subject to approval by any government entity; and
  • that TEA recommends that school systems designate a staff person or group that is responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns and clearly communicate for all school staff and families who this person or group is and how to contact them.

4. What about public health guidance for attendance and enrollment?

TEA’s SY 20-21 Public Health Guidance (updated 7/7/20) includes that any parent may request that their student be offered virtual instruction from any school system that offers such instruction. If a parent who chooses virtual instruction wants their child to switch to an on-campus instructional setting, they can do so, but school systems are permitted to limit these transitions to occur only at the end of a grading period, if it will be beneficial to the student’s instructional quality. If a parent requests virtual instruction and the school does not offer it, the parent may enroll in another school that does offer it for transfer students.

The guidance also states that school systems must provide daily on-campus attendance for students otherwise entitled to attend school who follow this document’s required public health procedures and whose parents wish them to attend on campus each day, subject to school closure and the exceptions listed in this document. During the first three weeks of school, to facilitate an effective back-to-school transition process, school systems may temporarily limit access to on-campus instruction. (See questions 13-22 below for more information.)

5. What about public health guidance to prevent the virus from entering the schools?

TEA’s SY 20-21 Public Health Guidance (updated 7/7/20)  states that school systems must require teachers and staff to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms before coming onto campus each day.

In addition, the school systems may consider screening students for COVID-19 as well. Screening is accomplished by asking questions by phone or other electronic methods and/or in person. The screening questions should also be asked of a student’s parent if that parent will be dropping off or picking up their child from inside the school. Regularly performing a forehead temperature check of otherwise asymptomatic students in school is not recommended, but the practice is also not prohibited.

6. What guidance is available for individuals who are confirmed or suspected with COVID-19?

TEA’s SY 20-21 Public Health Guidance (updated 7/7/20) includes that any individuals who themselves either: (a) are lab-confirmed to have COVID-19; or (b) experience the symptoms of COVID-19 (listed below) must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to campus until the school system screens the individual to determine conditions for campus re-entry have been met.

Schools must close off areas that are heavily used by the individual with the lab-confirmed case (student, teacher, or staff) until the non-porous surfaces in those areas can be disinfected, unless more than 3 days have passed since that person was on campus.

Consistent with school notification requirements for other communicable diseases, and consistent with legal confidentiality requirements, schools must notify all teachers, staff, and families of all students in a school if a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participate in any on-campus activities.

7. Is there guidance on masks/face coverings?

In its SY 20-21 Public Health Guidance (updated 7/7/20), TEA states that schools are required to comply with the governor’s executive order regarding the wearing of masks. In addition to the executive order, school systems may require the use of masks or face shields for adults or students for whom it is developmentally appropriate.

8. How about guidance on social distancing?

TEA’s SY 20-21 Public Health Guidance (updated 7/7/20) encourages students to practice social distancing where feasible without disrupting the educational experience. The guidance includes that in classroom spaces that allow it, districts should consider placing student desks a minimum of six feet apart when possible. In addition, in classrooms where students are regularly within six feet of one another, schools should plan for more frequent hand washing and/or hand sanitizing and should consider whether increased airflow from the outdoors is possible. When feasible and appropriate (for example, in physical education classes as weather permits), it is preferable for students to gather outside, rather than inside, because of likely reduced risk of virus spread outdoors. Moreover, depending upon local conditions, school systems should consider eliminating assemblies and other activities that bring large groupings of students and/or teachers and staff together.

9. What about visitors to schools?

In its SY 20-21 Public Health Guidance (updated 7/7/20), TEA states parents and other adults can visit schools, as permitted by local school system policies. Excluding parental drop-off and pick-up, before visitors are allowed onto campuses, school systems must screen all visitors to determine if the visitors have COVID-19 symptoms or are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and, if so, they must remain off campus until they meet certain criteria for re-entry.

During visits, parents and other visitors must follow virus prevention and mitigation requirements of the school.

School systems should restrict visits in schools to only those essential to school operations.

10. What about public health guidance for staffing and meetings?  

TEA’s SY 20-21 Public Health Guidance (updated 7/7/20) includes that school systems should attempt to reduce in-person staff meetings or other opportunities for adults to congregate in close settings. When those meetings are necessary and cannot be done through electronic means, everyone must follow mask protocols, remain at least 6 feet apart where feasible, consider the use of dividers, and consider whether increased airflow from the outdoors is possible in those settings.

11. Is the state doing anything about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for students and staff?

Per TEA’s Personal Protective Equipment Update (updated 6/9/20), the agency, in collaboration with the Governor’s Strike Force and the Texas Department of Emergency Management, is distributing PPE to help school systems reopen for the 2020-21 school year. PPE includes:

  • Disposable masks: 53 million for students and staff
  • Reusable masks: 18 million for students and staff
  • Gloves: 12 million sets for staff
  • Thermometers (infrared and no-contact): 42,500 for students and staff
  • Hand Sanitizer: 600,000 gallons for students and staff
  • Face Shields: 1 million for staff

PPE allotments were calculated by using 2019-20 student and on-campus staff counts and were allotted on a per pupil, district basis. On-campus staff includes teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, and auxiliary staff. PPE is expected to arrive between mid-July and early August. Districts maintain the discretion and responsibility for distributing the PPE according to their local context.

Click here to download the 2020-21 PPE allotments by district. The list includes the PPE items as well as the product types per PPE.

12. Is there guidance on training and conditioning activities that are non-UIL activities?

TEA’s Training and Conditioning Guidance for Non-UIL Activities (updated 6/9/20), provides information on facilities, grouping and staffing, and hygiene/health practices. Per the guidance, workouts and training sessions on campus must be optional for students. In addition to on-campus workout options, schools should consider providing students guidance for working out at home or remotely away from school. This can include virtual workouts and training, emailed or otherwise electronically delivered instructions, or any delivery model approved by the local school district.

For grouping students:

  • Sport Specific Activities Conducted Outdoors: Students may be placed in working groups no larger than 15 total students, through June 21. Beginning June 22, students may be placed in working groups no larger than 25 students total. Each working group should maintain appropriate distance from other working groups.
  • Sport Specific Activities Conducted Indoors: Students may be placed in working groups no larger than 10 total students, through June 21. Beginning June 22, students may be placed in working groups no larger than 15 students total. Each working group should maintain appropriate distance from other working groups.

Indoor workout activities can be conducted up to a maximum of 25% capacity through June 21 and may begin operating at 50% capacity beginning June 22.

Schools should limit the total number of participants based on available space to allow for the appropriate distancing between students and staff.

When actively exercising or playing a wind instrument, students and coaches must maintain at least ten feet of distance from all sides when possible.

13. Is there any guidance regarding how students will attend school during the 2020-21 school year?

Yes, TEA issued its SY 20-21 Attendance and Enrollment FAQ (7/7/20), which includes numerous details about requirements for student attendance in the upcoming school year.

Included in the guidance is the requirement that, subject to certain exceptions listed below, on-campus instruction must be offered for all grades served by the campus every day for every student whose parents want them to access on-campus instruction for each day a campus is providing instruction given its instructional calendar. Exceptions include:

  • A full-time virtual campus operating under the TXVSN.
  • Any day a campus is ordered closed by an entity authorized to issue an order under state law.
  • Any day a school district closes a campus as a result of a confirmed COVID-19 case on campus, subject to certain limits.
  • As part of a start-of-school transition period, during the first three weeks of the school year, school districts can, if they choose to do so locally, limit access to on-campus instruction to facilitate a safe, effective return to on-campus instruction. Students who cannot participate in remote learning at home because of lack of broadband internet access or devices must still have access to on-campus instruction during this time.

14. Can the school district establish a phased return to on-campus instruction to ensure its public health procedures are fully up and running?

According to TEA, as part of a start-of-year transition period, for up to the first three weeks of the instructional calendar, school districts may limit the number of students who otherwise access on campus instruction. This could be done by capacity limit by classroom across all grades, a limited number of grades starting by day, or some similar means, and could include being fully remote during this period. However, during this transition window, school districts are still required to provide on-campus instruction to all students from households without internet access or appropriate remote learning devices. All parents who want on campus instruction must be provided that on-campus attendance for their students at the immediate conclusion of the transition period (as opposed to the end of the first grading period, when parents otherwise choose remote instruction). The mechanism to limit access during this period should be clearly communicated to families in advance.

15. If one of our campuses (or my entire school district) closes because of a confirmed positive case of COVID-19, can my school district decide to simply switch over to 100% remote instruction for the rest of the school year for that campus (or for my entire school district)?

According to TEA, the answer is no. For any day a school district closes a campus as a result of a confirmed COVID-19 case on campus, remote instruction will be funded. However, campuses may only remain closed to on-campus instruction for up to five consecutive days (including the original closure day), while drawing funding for all students participating in remote instruction. A closure period does not end until the campus has reopened for on-campus instruction for at least one instructional day.

16. Can a school district decide to only offer remote instruction for a campus, or for all of the campuses?

According to TEA, the answer is no. Campuses cannot be solely remote (excluding full-time TXVSN campuses), except during COVID-19 closures or during the start-of-school transition (as described above). On-campus instruction must be offered for all students who want to attend on campus in order to be eligible to receive funding for remote instruction.

17. Can parents be required to commit to remote or on campus instruction?

Per TEA, school districts may ask their parents to commit to either on campus or remote instruction for their students no earlier than two weeks before the start of the school year. School districts may survey parents prior to that period, but parents cannot be bound to the choice prior to two weeks before the start of the school year. In the event a parent chooses remote instruction for their child, a school districts may, if it believes it is in the student’s educational interest, choose to limit the student’s return to an on-campus setting to occur only at the end of a grading period (e.g. 6-week or 9-week). However, school districts cannot require a student to remain in remote instruction for more than a single grading period. Note: students who begin receiving remote instruction as a result of staying at home to isolate from COVID-19 exposure should be permitted to return to campus at the end of their isolation period, as opposed to the end of a grading period.

18. If we believe that a student would be better served via one of the remote instructional methods instead of via on-campus instruction, can my school district require that student to stay home to receive remote instruction?

According to TEA, the answer is no. Unless a student is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19, is symptomatic for COVID-19, or is determined to be in close contact with an individual lab-confirmed to have COVID-19, the student must be allowed to receive on-campus instruction, if that instructional setting is desired by the parent. Except as may occur during the start-of-year transition period described above, students receive remote instruction solely at the discretion of their parents or legal guardians. As noted above, in the event a parent chooses remote instruction for their child, a school district may, if the school district believes it is in the student’s educational interest, choose to limit the student’s return to an on-campus setting to occur only at the end of a grading period (e.g. 6-week or 9-week). However, school districts cannot require a student to remain in remote instruction for the entirety of a semester. Parents are not required to make this commitment more than two weeks prior to the beginning of any grading period.

19. Can a school district offering a hybrid on-campus and remote instructional model (on and off campus on varying days/weeks) for different groups of students in several grades require students to participate in this hybrid model?

According to TEA, school districts cannot offer only an intermittent on-campus attendance option for any given grade. Students may choose to opt in to receive hybrid instruction, but, in order for the school district to be eligible to receive funding for remote instruction for any student for any day, the school district must offer sufficient on-campus instruction in every grade so that every parent has an on-campus attendance option every day for their student in the school district, excluding during COVID-19 closures.  A campus (or portion of a campus) may establish hybrid instruction as long as another nearby campus (or portion of the same campus) in the school district is available to provide on-campus only instruction to students whose parents request such instruction. Note: in the event a school district does not offer a daily on-campus instructional experience at a given campus and as a result some students would not attend on campus at their typical campus, school districts must continue meeting the individual needs of all affected students.

20. Can school districts require a student to come on campus to complete assignments for certain electives while the student is being served through one of the remote instruction methods?

Per TEA, some elective courses may have coursework that can only reasonably be completed in person, even if some components of the course could be taught virtually (e.g., welding). These courses must be made available to students who are otherwise learning virtually, although the school district can require a student to come to campus to complete a required assignment or project for an elective course if the course requires assignments that cannot be reasonably completed remotely.

Some courses may require a student to obtain equipment from campus in order to complete coursework virtually. School districts must communicate which courses have on-campus requirements and notify parents and students before the start of the course that failure to complete the required on-campus assignments could cause the student to not be awarded course credit. This notification to ensures students have an option to select courses that can be completed remotely if desired.

Schools should consider organizing on-campus curricular requirements in groupings specific to students who are remote, so they come to campus separately and on a schedule that allows for travel from home. These students would need to be screened for COVID-19 and follow any other school requirements and practices consistent with practices for other students.

21. Can school districts prevent a student from attending an on-campus lesson that is required for course credit if the student has chosen a remote instructional method?

If school districts offers virtual instruction, they must offer all core (foundation) courses in an entirely virtual format and must ensure that a student is able to meet all statutory requirements, including the requirement that 40% of instructional time includes laboratory and field investigations for full course credit. For these required courses, school districts are not obligated to allow a student to optionally participate in on-campus components of the course if they are able to meet all course requirements virtually.  The school district must ensure all labs can be conducted virtually or that students are provided with certain supplies and/or equipment to conduct the labs at home.

22. Can school districts prohibit students who have chosen to receive all their instruction through a remote instruction method from participating in extracurricular activities?

School districts may develop a local policy that would exclude students who are learning remotely from all extracurricular activities if they choose to do so.

23. What remote instruction options are available in 2020-21?

In its Overview of Remote Instruction Guidance for SY 20-21, TEA created an attendance framework that sets out two new methods of remote instruction, synchronous instruction and asynchronous instruction. Both instructional delivery formats must cover the required curriculum per TEC, §28.002.

Synchronous instruction is similar to instruction “on campus” and requires virtual two-way, real-time, live, instruction between teachers and students, through the computer or other electronic devices or over the phone.

Examples include live interactive classes with students & teachers participating real-time, teacher supported work time on video conference calls, scheduled and timed online tests.

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Synchronous Attestation Summary (7/6/20), school districts must submit an attestation that they are prepared to offer synchronous instruction before funding will flow for synchronous attendance, and the district must post the attestation on its website. The attestation must include the following:

Student and Family Support

  • Districts ensure that all students, including students with disabilities and English learners, are able to receive instruction via synchronous methods and provide accommodations or resources to support when necessary.
  • Student IEPs are followed regardless of learning environment such that students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).
  • Families and students are provided with clear communications about expectations and support for accessing and participating in synchronous instruction.
  • Families are aware of options for transferring between instructional settings and the design of the synchronous remote options allows for transitions to occur with minimal disruption to continuity of instruction.

Educator Support

  • Educators are trained and supported to do synchronous instruction on the district chosen platform, including practice with the platform prior to delivery with students.
  • Educators receive ongoing, job-embedded support to continuously improve their practice in the synchronous remote setting.

Tech Support and Access

  • District IT staff are trained on the platform and can troubleshoot access issues for parents and students when issues arise. A helpdesk or other support line is accessible for parents and students for this purpose.
  • Consistent, daily platform is identified by the district for delivery of instruction to students.
  • Educators have technology that allows them to deliver synchronous remote instruction, including proper internet bandwidth and devices with enabled cameras and microphones.

Instructional Framework

  • Curriculum is fully aligned to the TEKS and designed to ensure all TEKS are covered by the end of the year.
  • Instructional schedule meets the minimum number of daily minutes to meet full day funding:
    • Grades 3-5: 180 instructional minutes
    • Grades 6-12: 240 instructional minutes
    • Grades PK-2 are not eligible to earn funding through the synchronous model.
  • School grading policies for remote student work are consistent with those used before COVID-19 for on-campus assignments.

Asynchronous instruction involves far more self-guided student instruction. It is a curricular experience where students engage in the learning materials on their own time, interacting intermittently with the teacher via the computer or other electronic devices or over the phone.

Examples include self-paced online courses with intermittent teacher instruction, preassigned work with formative assessments on paper or in Learning Management System (LMS), watching pre-recorded videos of instruction with guided support.

All grades are eligible for this method, and school grading policies for remote student work must be consistent with those used before COVID-19 for on-campus assignments.

Districts wishing to use the asynchronous instruction method must apply for a commissioner waiver by submitting a plan to TEA for approval. Plans must be posted online for parents to see and include differentiation by grade and subject, but only one plan per district. All plans will be given contingent approval for up to the first three six weeks, to provide maximum grace while systems adjust. After the third six weeks, funding for asynchronous remote attendance stops without approved plan. Plans must address four key requirements:

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Asynchronous Plan Summary (7/6/20), a plan, along with a district attestation, must address four key requirements:

  • Instructional Schedule: Expectations for when and in what setting students are learning, loosely equivalent to an on-campus instructional day, including:
    • teacher interaction with students will be sufficient to support the schedule;
    • teacher availability for students;
    • student access to instructional support;
    • student means to engage with academic material daily; and
    • student engagement is equivalent to direct content work that student would be engaged in over a normal school year.
  • Material Design: Curriculum must be designed for asynchronous student learning, including:
    • assessments that ensure continued information on student progress remotely;
    • instructional materials that support a coherent, logical course sequence that reinforces concepts at appropriate times to ensure continuity of learning remotely and retention of knowledge in an asynchronous environment;
    • instructional materials include specifically designed resources and/or accommodations and modifications to support students with disabilities and English Learners in an asynchronous environment; and
    • there is a plan to ensure district adopted instructional materials are used during instruction and in the hands of students.
  • Student Progress: Daily student progress is defined and measured, including:
    • expected student progress in remote asynchronous learning is planned in advance, defined by day, and ties to the overall course coverage in the course syllabus;
    • easily, trackable student engagement exists to ensure curricular progress in asynchronous learning;
    • districts have systems to measure academic progress of all students to inform instructional practice in an asynchronous environment;
    • student feedback is provided from instructor at least weekly in asynchronous learning environments including next steps or necessary academic remediation to improve performance; and
    • school grading policies for remote student work are consistent with those used before COVID-19 for on campus assignments.
  • Implementation: The district must provide educators with support to provide remote instruction, including campuses plan for and implement professional development calendars with specific supports for asynchronous instruction. These include the following for educators:
    • provide introductory and ongoing content-focused, job-embedded training linked to chosen asynchronous curricular resources;
    • cover all grade levels and content areas that are participating in asynchronous learning;
    • develop content knowledge to help educators internalize the asynchronous curriculum and analyze and respond to data with the use of the instructional materials; and
    • explicitly cover asynchronous remote instructional delivery and use of the asynchronous learning platform and/or learning management system.

Additionally, districts provide explicit communication and support for families in order to support asynchronous work at home.

24. How will attendance be taken and funding generated when using the synchronous instruction method?

  • Students logged in at the teacher’s documented official attendance time are marked present for that day, but would be documented as “Present-Remote Synchronous” in SIS for PEIMS reporting.
  • Students who are not logged in at the teacher’s documented official attendance time are marked absent.
  • Teachers take and post attendance at a specific schedule, just as with on-campus ADA.
  • A minimum number of daily minutes are required to earn full day funding: grades 3-5, 180 instructional minutes; grades 6-12, 240 instructional minutes; the synchronous method for recording attendance for grades PK-2 is not allowed. (School systems could support these grades via the asynchronous method).
  • Daily instructional minutes need not be consecutive.
  • Time students spend in work-based learning opportunities can be included in the daily instructional minute calculation; these include internships, externships, apprenticeships, and mentorships.

For half-day ADA FSP funding, divide the full-day minute requirements in half.

25. How will attendance be taken and funding generated when using the asynchronous instruction method?

  • According to TEA, this model will generate full-day funding for each day “engaged,” assuming (for secondary) that a student isn’t scheduled to participate in less than a half-days worth of courses.
  • Staff should check daily for student “engagement”. If students are engaged for the day, they would be marked as “Present-Remote Asynchronous” in SIS for PEIMS.
  • Students who are not “engaged” that day are marked absent.
  • Engaged is any of these three: 1) progress (as defined in the approved learning plan) in the Learning Management System (LMS) made that day; 2) progress (as defined in the approved learning plan) from teacher/student interactions made that day; or 3) turn-in of assignment(s) that day.

26. Is synchronous instruction for PK-2 prohibited?

TEA clarified in its SY 20-21 Attendance and Enrollment FAQ that synchronous instruction is not prohibited for PK-2; rather, just the synchronous method for recording attendance is prohibited for PK-2. The synchronous method for attendance requires a minimum of 180 minutes be completed per day through a synchronous virtual method (e.g., a Zoom call), which after extensive stakeholder engagement with educators and district leaders, was determined to be neither developmentally appropriate nor good instructional practice as a 5-day-a-week practice for PK-2 students. Using asynchronous remote for these students would allow districts, for example, to provide synchronous instruction for these students in shorter time increments in areas such as foundational literacy practices mixed with asynchronous learning activities that build in opportunities for student practice, interactions, exercise, and play-based activities.

27. What kind of accountability will be in place for these two methods of instruction?

According to TEA, remote instruction has never been funded before, outside the Texas Virtual Schools Network. TEA’s funding framework fully funds remote instruction for every district using statutory waiver authority, but that commitment to full funding has been made contingent on a system of student-focused checks & balances:

  • For asynchronous – daily student progress with academic content is occurring.
  • For asynchronous – Districts must have approved plans to deliver instruction in a way that works asynchronously
  • Daily attendance is being taken.
  • Remote student work is being graded consistent with on campus practices.
  • Academic accountability returns in 2020-21.

28. Can a district use remote instruction for students who are absent for ANY reason (even something other than COVID-19 absenses) and receive funding?

Per TEA in its SY 20-21 Attendance and Enrollment FAQ, the answer is yes; one of the two methods of remote instruction is an acceptable way to provide instruction to students for the 2020-21 school year and continue to receive funding for those students. Documented attendance/engagement must occur on the day of the absence.

29. Will at-home parent-led instruction count toward a district’s instructional minute requirements as part of either remote instruction method?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Attendance and Enrollment FAQ,  at-home, parent-led instructional time will not count towards meeting daily attendance or engagement requirements under either remote instruction method. Teachers must be the primary provider of instruction in any remote setting.

30. If a student who is originally scheduled to receive instruction through the synchronous instructional method is not present at the designated official attendance time, could the student still be marked present for the day by engaging through the remote asynchronous method?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 Attendance and Enrollment FAQ, a student who is scheduled to receive instruction through the district’s remote synchronous method who is not present at the official attendance time can still be marked present if the student is engaged through the district’s remote asynchronous method that same day. In this scenario, the teacher should mark the student absent when attendance is taken at the official attendance time and the absence could later be changed to remote asynchronous present with documented engagement through one of the approved remote asynchronous engagement methods that occurred the same day. However, the district’s approved asynchronous plan would need to include the relevant grade/subject as being eligible for asynchronous instruction, and that synchronous instruction would be provided concurrently.

31. 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?

According to TEA’s guidance, Adjusting 2020-2021 School Calendars (updated 5/7/20), the agency predicts that the 2020-21 school year is “likely to include short-term disruptions to instruction and high student absenteeism” due to further waves of COVID-19 infections, and recommends that districts be prepared to convert to an intersessional calendar.

TEA’s recommendation of an intersessional calendar could involve an earlier start date, longer mid-year breaks, and a later end date. (An example is provided with two weeks off at Thanksgiving, four weeks in December/January, three weeks in March, and six weeks in June/July.) These intersessional breaks can be used for remediation, acceleration, or enrichment; school closures due to resurgence of COVID-19; and/or bad weather make up days.

Districts wishing to change their start dates should review TEA’s Changing School Start Date Guidance. Districts that would require a DOI plan must go through the process outlined in law, which requires a school board resolution, formation of a committee to develop the plan, development of a plan that must be posted for 30 days, and approval by a majority vote of the district-level decision-making committee in a public meeting. The plan must also be approved by a two-thirds vote of the school board. A revision to an existing plan must also go through a similar approval process.

Longer school years have significant implications for teacher contracts and salaries. To see TCTA’s exploration of these issues, click here.

For additional information on calendar options, please see TEA’s Intersessional Calendar Options (updated 5/12/20) and TEA's 2020-21 Calendar Guidance and FAQs (updated 5/21/20).

32. Is there guidance regarding adding school days?

In TEA’s guidance, Adjusting 2020-21 School Calendars (updated 5/7/20), TEA suggests that school districts implementing an intersessional calendar in 2020-21 may consider adding the Additional Days School Year (ADSY) program to their calendar, which provides for half-day formula funding for school systems that add instructional days to any of their elementary schools (PK-5) starting in the 2020-21 school year. Funding for an ADSY program is available for those days beyond a minimum of 180, up to 210. The ADSY program requires that participating campuses meet both the 75,600-minute requirement and conduct 180 days of regular instruction to be eligible for funding. Professional development and other waivers do not count toward the 180 days of instruction. TEA communications have anticipated that some of the additional funding would be used for salaries, but the law does not specify how salaries would be handled. Whether and how much educators would receive in additional compensation for working additional days appears to be the decision of local school districts. 

33. Do student/teacher ratio rules still apply during additional calendar days?

Yes, all aspects of the Texas Education Code apply during additional days, except for compulsory attendance.

34. How should districts account for teachers’ minimum salary schedule if days are added to the calendar?

Districts adding days to teacher contracts must ensure that the days added meet the minimum salary schedule requirements per TEC, §21.402. If you are offering additional pay, TEA encourages you to verify requirements with your legal counsel.

35. Do participating districts give grades for additional days?

Per TEC, §25.085(i), additional days attendance is non-compulsory for students. Therefore, the additional days do not qualify as grading periods.

36. How will remote instruction in 2020-21 affect ADSY eligibility and half day requirements?

Per TEA’s Additional Days School Year guidance (updated 7/9/20), the requirement that campuses must operate 180 regular academic days to be eligible for ADSY still applies to remote instruction. These days would need to be considered full days under the new remote instruction guidance. Given that remote course completion is not driven by daily attendance, full time virtual campuses operating under the course completion framework will not be eligible for ADSY.

The requirement that an ADSY program day must provide a minimum of half day of instruction would apply to remote instruction as follows:

  • Synchronous (grades 3-5): Half of the full day requirement, or a minimum of 90 minutes of synchronous instruction. Grades 6-12 are not eligible for ADSY.
  • Asynchronous: The same daily engagement measures outlined in the district’s asynchronous instructional plan apply for ADSY program days.
  • Remote Course Completion: Course completion will not be eligible for ADSY given daily attendance is not taken to ensure 180 days of instruction for ADSY eligibility.

37. If a charter school decides to change to a year-round calendar, will it be required to submit a non-expansion amendment?

Yes, according to TEA’s guidance, Charter School FAQ (updated 5/12/20). 19 TAC §100.1033 lists the reasons for which a charter school would be required to file an amendment to change the terms of its open-enrollment charter, including: maximum enrollment, grade levels, geographic boundaries, approved campus(es), approved sites, relocation of campus, charter holder name, charter school (district) name, charter campus name, charter holder governance, articles of incorporation, corporate bylaws, management company, admission policy, or the educational program of the school.

Adopting a year-round calendar would be a change to the educational program of the school, requiring a non-expansion amendment. Charter schools considering adopting a year-round calendar for the 2020-21 school year should make preparations to file a non-expansion amendment with the agency as soon as possible, prior to the beginning of the new school year. Expanding prior to receiving the commissioner's approval will have financial consequences as outlined in §100.1041(d)(1).

38. Is there flexibility for completing the 2019-20 bilingual education and ESL summer school requirements for English learners entering kindergarten and grade 1 (Texas Education Code Sec. 29.060; Texas Administrative Code §89.1250)?

Yes, per TEA’s 2019-20 English Learner Summer School Guidance and FAQ (updated 5/27/20), districts are still required to offer 120 hours of instruction that are supplemental to the regular school day/year, but instead of completing these hours in the summer of 2020, they may meet the provisions of this requirement throughout the summer of 2020 and the 2020-21 school year. Program shall be staffed by teachers appropriately certified for the bilingual/ESL program (TAC §89.1250 (3)(E)).

Districts may:

  • complete the EL summer school requirement prior to the beginning of the 2020-21 school year,
  • begin EL summer school in summer of 2020 and complete the 120 hours of instruction (supplemental to the regular school day) throughout the 2020-21 school year, or
  • complete the 120 hours of instruction (supplemental to the regular school day) during the 2020-21 school year. Note: “Supplemental to the regular school day” may include before or after school hours, weekends, or during any LEA incremental breaks within a year-round schedule.

39. What methods of delivery are permissible for meeting the requirement of 120 hours of instruction for EL summer school?

Per TEA’s 2019-20 English Learner Summer School Guidance and FAQ (updated 5/27/20), there are four types of delivery methods: face to face instruction, materials/paper delivery, virtual, and hybrid. Logistical and progress monitoring considerations for these methods include:

  • Gather stakeholder input on the proposed schedule for meeting the 120-hour requirement. For example, if the LEA proposes to utilize days during the 2020-21 school year, does the community prefer evenings, weekends, or both?
  • A teacher should be responsible for no more than 18 students, following the typical summer school requirement.
  • Students can participate in a synchronous online session with a teacher and have a guided conversation intended to elicit the desired linguistic characteristics previously identified.
  • Students can be informally monitored for linguistic progress through regularly scheduled phone calls or video chats on a smart phone.
  • Students can be evaluated face to face when school resumes for the 2020-21 school year to see if linguistic and academic goals set at the beginning of summer school were achieved. This information will inform the new classroom about the most recent goals set for the student and can also be shared with parents/guardians.

A description of each method with additional considerations are below:

  • Face-to-Face Instruction (traditional brick and mortar classrooms) where students attend classes in the school building and follow local health recommendations as well as TEA’s Guidance for Reopening and Student Interaction.
    • Consider morning and afternoon summer school sessions to ensure that no more than eleven individuals are in an enclosed area together regularly, however the 18/1 unit still applies for reimbursement.
    • Develop procedures to maintain social distancing during arrival, dismissal, recess, and time in the cafeteria.
    • Brainstorm alternative physical classroom setups that support social distancing such as individual work areas, and classroom procedures that facilitate health guidelines such as hand washing routines.
  • Materials/Paper Delivery where students pick up materials for summer school on a regular schedule and complete learning opportunities in a family environment. Curriculum includes linguistic and academic development opportunities that can be carried out by families, as well as activities intended to address the students’ affective needs.
    • Consider replicating the LEAs meal distribution system. If meals are provided during the summer, align materials pick up time so families can make one trip.
    • Determine frequency of materials distribution and create a system to prepare bags in advance.
    • Establish a method for students to return finished work products and get feedback.
    • Establish a method for families to contact the teacher directly for specific questions about summer school, the student, or the learning opportunities.
    • Arrange for families to drop off work products at the following pick up opportunity, and papers from the previous week can be displayed outside, visible to the car lane.
    • Include recommendations that can be given to parents/guardians and families for low-tech activities that require minimal internet access or are alternatives to digital learning experiences.
    • Foster teacher/student relationships via an “All About Me” page on the teacher in the first packet, YouTube introduction video, phone call and/or video chat.
  • Virtual (synchronous and asynchronous) where students access all communication and learning opportunities online. The district uses an online system for communicating learning opportunities based on feedback from the most recent distance learning environment. Curriculum includes linguistic and academic development opportunities that can be carried out by a teacher in a virtual setting, or online with support from families.
    • Intentionally create a classroom culture in early synchronous learning opportunities, or in an asynchronous learning opportunity, the teacher can share an “All About Me” video as a model for students who in turn submit their own.
    • In synchronous learning opportunities, teachers prioritize interactive sessions requiring a fluent language model.
    • Asynchronous learning opportunities include links for students to access fluent language models, including the teacher modeling a previously introduced text, poem, or song that students can practice and teach family members.
  • Hybrid (combination of any of the above options).
    • Determine the ways in which the LEA’s current distance learning plan be implemented or modified to offer specialized instruction for summer school.
    • Consider the strategic implementation of traditional classroom experiences for small groups or for specific purposes. Examples include
    • Mon/Wed and Tues/Thurs rotations of students to create small class sizes
    • Individual testing and/or progress monitoring opportunities
    • Small groups for students new to the LEA or with similar specialized needs.
    • Consider strategic distribution of LEA devices that are age appropriate. For example, iPads commonly used in early childhood classrooms could be distributed to students meeting an LEA established criteria like lacking fluent or near fluent English language models. Families could pick up devices in person and receive a tutorial/demonstration of appropriate use and care.
    • Students can come to the school for individual or small group progress monitoring.

40. What are factors to consider within the various methods of delivery regarding the student to teacher ratio (not to exceed 18:1) requirement for EL summer school?

The required student to teacher ratio should not exceed 18:1, as would apply normally. Please note, though, that public health restrictions currently provide that no more than 11 individuals should be in an enclosed area together regularly, following TEA’s Guidance for Reopening and Student Interaction.

41. How should districts determine the best way to meet the EL summer school requirement, given the state’s guidance on summer school?

According to 2019-20 English Learner Summer School Guidance and FAQ (updated 5/27/20) TEA recommends the following to meet the EL summer school requirement:

  • Survey students’ families (including calls, emails, online surveys, etc.) to determine interest and desired methods for participation in EL summer school.
  • Survey teachers (including calls, emails, online surveys, etc.) to determine interest and desired methods for facilitating/providing EL summer school.
  • Utilize existing LEA distance learning systems and previously used EL summer school resources to formulate a feasible plan.
  • Consider factors for student and family participation in order to ensure access to instruction and materials based on current distance learning experiences. See Tips for Families of English Learners on the TEA COVID-19 Support: Special Populations webpage. Note: Districts must adhere to all social distancing requirements and other guidance from healthcare officials.

42. How will attendance be tracked for EL summer school participation?

Per 2019-20 English Learner Summer School Guidance and FAQ (updated 5/27/20) TEA outlines how attendance will be tracked:

  • In face-to-face instruction (traditional brick and mortar classrooms), districts will track attendance as they do regularly for EL summer school.
  • With materials/paper delivery, a number of hours of instruction can be estimated for completion of the activities in each delivery to mark that student’s attendance in those hours of instruction.
  • Through virtual instruction (synchronous and asynchronous), attendance may be collected per synchronous session participation and evidence of asynchronous assignment completion. Note: Participation data will be reported through PEIMS.

43. Is there any guidance on providing extended school year services for special education students? 

Yes. TEA issued Compensatory Services and Extended School Year Guidance on May 14. According to the guidance, extended school year (ESY) services are required only if the ARD committee determines and documents in the IEP that, in one or more critical areas addressed in the current IEP goals and objectives, the student has exhibited, or reasonably may be expected to exhibit, severe or substantial regression that cannot be recouped within a reasonable period of time. In Texas, severe and substantial regression means that the student has been, or will be, unable to maintain one or more acquired critical skills in the absence of ESY services. (For additional state requirements related to ESY, please see 19 TAC §89.1065.)

44. How are extended school year services defined? 

According to TEA’s Compensatory Services and Extended School Year Guidance (5/14/20), ESY services provide individualized instruction and services to prevent the severe or substantial loss of skills or learning during the time beyond the regular school year when schools are not in session.

TEA’s guidance distinguishes ESY services from compensatory services and provides that ESY services are not a substitute for compensatory services. Per TEA, if services are not provided as a result of the pandemic response, a consideration of compensatory services would need to be completed and an individualized plan created as needed. For some students, it may be appropriate to provide compensatory services beyond the regular school year (such as during the summer), but this would be a separate consideration from the student’s ESY needs.

45. How are ESY services determined? 

According to TEA’s Compensatory Services and Extended School Year Guidance (5/14/20), the need for ESY services must be documented by formal or informal evaluations provided by the school district or the student’s family.

If a student requires or can reasonably be expected to require a significant amount of time to recoup acquired critical skills, then the ARD committee must discuss whether the student needs extended educational or related services during school breaks.

If the loss of acquired critical skills would be particularly severe or substantial, or if such loss results, or reasonably may be expected to result, in immediate physical harm to the student or to others, ESY services may be justified without consideration of the period of time for recoupment of such skills.

ARD committees should consider the data they have already collected on student IEP goals. In general, ARD committees will have already identified or have the data necessary to determine which students need an extended 2019-20 school year. The data for summer 2020 ESY, was likely collected based on regression and recoupment data from summer break between the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years. Additional data, if needed, was likely collected over the 2019-20 winter break.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ARD committees need to carefully consider any individual cases where an extended break due to school closure is likely to result in severe or substantial loss of critical skills, or regression is reasonably expected to result in the immediate physical harm to the student or others. In these situations, ESY services during summer 2020 may be justified without consideration of the period for recoupment.

46. What considerations should be given to summer 2020 ESY services?

According to TEA’s Compensatory Services and Extended School Year Guidance (5/14/20), given the uncertainty surrounding when school buildings will reopen, schools should make contingency plans for school closures that would impact ESY. Possible scenarios that should be considered include: face to face instruction for all who are eligible, face to face instruction for limited numbers of students who are eligible due to potential limitations of how many can be gathered in one place, and finally, the continuation of virtual learning for all who are eligible. School districts should focus on ESY as a necessary service, regardless of the modality of delivery.

47. How are ESY decisions impacted once schools resume in 2020-21?

According to TEA’s Compensatory Services and Extended School Year Guidance (5/14/20), in most situations, school districts will not have the opportunity to assess the amount of time needed to recoup losses on critical IEP skills that result from the current break from traditional school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic until schools reopen for the 2020-21 school year. At that time school districts will need to:

  • Assess students to determine present levels in relation to IEP goals;
  • Provide instruction and reteaching of critical skills;
  • Carefully monitor student’s progress and recoupment of critical skills; and
  • Use data to discuss as an ARD committee potential ESY eligibility during the

48. What about compensatory services? 

According to TEA's Compensatory Services and Extended School Year Guidance (5/14/20), compensatory services provide a student with a disability the educational services needed to make up for skills or learning that have been lost when services described in an IEP were not provided. Per TEA, given the uncertainty about what regular school operations will look like in the near future and in light of the fact that school districts have continued to provide some level of instruction and services to students throughout the closure of physical school buildings, an ARD committee may in some circumstances consider whether it makes sense to move forward with determinations either virtually or in person over the summer months.

ARD committees considering the provision of compensatory services remotely should carefully consider how effective remote services have been for individual students thus far and make adjustments to delivery methods and supports to ensure that the most effective services possible are provided to individual students.

49. How is the need for compensatory services determined? 

According to TEA's Compensatory Services and Extended School Year Guidance (5/14/20), the following considerations should be given:

  • If the student’s data show that the student has not lost progress, or that the student will be able to make up for the lost progress in a short amount of time without the need for compensatory services, then the ARD committee might determine that the student does not need compensatory services.
  • If the student’s data show that the student has lost progress, then the ARD committee must consider and, as applicable, include in the student’s IEP the type, location, duration, and frequency of the services the student needs to make up for that lost progress. The decision must be made based on data regarding student progress and should not be misconstrued to necessarily require an hour for hour or minute for minute makeup in services.
  • If a student experienced a pause during the initial evaluation process for special education eligibility due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic response, and is later found to be eligible for special education services, then the ARD committee should consider whether there is a need for services that address the delay in receiving special education services.
  • If a student experienced a pause for reevaluation or an interruption in the actual testing midway through the reevaluation process, and is later found to be eligible for new special education services, then the ARD committee should consider whether there is also a need for services that address the delay in receiving the new special education services.
  • If a students experienced an interruption in the delivery of compensatory services that were decided as part of the complaint process, mediation, or a due process hearing, then the ARD committee should consider whether there is need for additional compensatory services to address the delay in the student receiving other compensatory services as the result of a previous action.

50. Will certification requirements for special education personnel be extended or waived for the upcoming 2020-21 school year due to cancelation of certification tests by TEA?

According to TEA’s April 7 COVID-19 Special Education Q&A, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires staff delivering instructional, ancillary or related services to be appropriately certified. Neither TEA nor the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs has the legal authority to waive this requirement. If a school district is not able to comply, the school district should communicate with the student’s family and document all reasonable efforts to comply with applicable certification requirements.

Special populations

1. What actions should be taken if a teacher who was on the district’s 2019-20 bilingual education exception or ESL waiver is unable to complete the appropriate certification?

Teachers who were placed on the district’s 2019-20 bilingual education exception or ESL waiver submitted to the state by Nov. 1, 2019, have until the 2020-21 bilingual education/ESL waiver deadline (11/1/20) to complete the necessary certification requirements. If a teacher has any unforeseen circumstances that prevent them from completing certification requirements in the appropriate timeframe (i.e. testing center closures due to COVID-19, personal or family medical circumstances, multiple failed assessment attempts, etc.), the district can

  • document the reasons for which the teacher was unable to complete certification requirements during the given timeframe,
  • establish and document a plan for expedited completion, and
  • add the teacher to the 2020-21 bilingual education exception/ESL waiver as necessary.

It is up to the district to determine the validity of the teacher’s efforts to obtain the appropriate certification within the expected timeline. Bilingual education exceptions and ESL waivers should only be submitted based on state certification requirements for bilingual education programs and ESL programs. A district may establish expectations that exceed these requirements.

Reminder: Teachers who hold the necessary bilingual education or ESL probationary or intern certificate or for whom an emergency permit has been obtained by the district are appropriately certified and should NOT be added to the respective bilingual education exception or ESL waiver. This includes teachers who have received an intern or probationary certificate under the conditions of the governor’s waivers related to the declaration of emergency (WINT or WPRO) and those for whom the emergency permit has been renewed for the 2020-21 school year. For more information, click here.

2. What are the priority Language Proficiency Assessment Committee duties for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year?

Per TEA’s SY 20-21 English Learner Guidance, priority LPAC duties at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year include:

  • Identification of potential English learners within the first four calendar weeks of the students’ enrollment.
  • Completion of the extended timeline for determining English learner reclassification through the first 30 calendar days of the 2020-2021 school year.
    • The extended timeline for the first 30 calendar days begins when the district resumes school for all students for the 2020-21 school year.
    • If the district is unable to complete the reclassification process within the extended timeline in the fall, the LPAC documents the reasons for which the timeline was extended, including the plan for completing the process in a timely manner.
    • If feasible and allowable per public health facts, the district may choose to continue the English learner reclassification process during the summer, prior to the start of the 2020-21 school year, as needed.
  • Communication to parents/guardians on English learner progress and continued program participation decisions within the first 30 calendar days of the 2020-21 school year.

The LPAC End-of-Year Guidance Checklist provides details on closing out 2019-20 school year LPAC duties at the start of 2020-21.

3. What continued adjustments to the LPAC responsibilities are available during the 202021 school year?

According to TEA’s SY 20-21 English Learner Guidance, the LPAC may use the following provisions:

  • Alternative meeting methods, such as
    • Phone or video conferencing
    • Use of electronic signatures that adhere with district policy
  • Optional LPAC parent representation (although highly encouraged)

4. With potential for on-campus and remote learning during the 2020-21 school year, are LPACs required to complete the English learner identification process within the required four calendar weeks of a student’s initial enrollment?

In its SY 20-21 English Learner Guidance, TEA states that as with other circumstances beyond the district’s control, the LPAC should attempt to complete the English learner identification process within the four calendar weeks requirement, as feasible, and documents in the student’s permanent record the reasons for which the timeline was extended. Important notes:

  • The English learner identification assessment (preLAS/LAS Links) cannot be administered virtually. Any virtual assessments given are invalid and cannot be used for identification of English learners.
  • If a student is assessed for English proficiency prior to a period of school closure, the LPAC may meet through alternative meeting methods (phone or video conference) in order to complete the identification.
    • The participation of the LPAC parent is optional.
    • If the student is identified by the LPAC, the student’s parent is notified of identification, and parental approval may be obtained in writing or through an email or documented phone conversation.
  • The summer or intermittent breaks (holidays, planned or unplanned periods of closure, etc.) can be used to complete the identification process, per local health regulations. Calendar days during intermittent breaks within the school year are included in the required timeframe of four calendar weeks for identification.
  • No special form is needed for documenting reasons for delayed identification.
  • For students transferring from other Texas public schools, previous LPAC identification documentation should be obtained and utilized to continue program services.

5. Can a student be placed in a bilingual education or ESL program while English learner identification is pending?

According to TEA, TAC 89.1220 (j) allows for identified English learners who are awaiting parental approval to be temporarily placed in a bilingual education or ESL program. During periods of school closures or intermittent breaks due to the coronavirus pandemic, districts may similarly provide temporary instructional support for potential English learners to ensure prompt access to program services when the identification process is delayed.

6. What if a student was unable to complete all four domains of the 2019-20 TELPAS?

Per TEA, the English Language Proficiency Assessment component of the reclassification criteria cannot be fulfilled with partial TELPAS data. If all four domains of the 2019-20 TELPAS were not completed, the district may administer the LAS Links Assessment only to English learners who have demonstrated a potential for reclassification with an extended testing window through the first 30 calendar days of the 2020-21 school year.

7. Can students within the same district have different 2019-20 EL reclassification criteria based on their situation?

According to TEA, the district must develop a consistent district-wide plan for determining reclassification criteria for English learners. This plan may include differences in reclassification criteria for some students based on individual situations.

8. What assistance is provided to districts who opt to use the LAS Links Assessment for 2019-20 EL reclassification?

In its SY 20-21 English Learner Guidance, TEA states districts can score the assessments for reclassification locally, or Data Recognition Corporation  can complete the scoring for a fee. If districts choose to have DRC score the assessments for reclassification, their local funds or bilingual education allotment funds can be used. Additionally, only for the 2019-20 school year, the district can use Title III, Part A-ELA funds for DRC scoring of the LAS Links assessment used for reclassification. Click here for more information.

Funding

1. Can migrant funds be expended to implement the summer program via distance learning?

According to TEA’s Federal Funding and Grants FAQ (updated 4/30/20), the answer is yes. Aside from supplies, materials and resources, migrant funds may be expended on equipment for teachers and students (e.g., electronic devices, mobile Wi-Fi, headphones, etc.). A district must ensure that it is an identified need and it is reasonable.

2. Will our schools have enough money next year or are we going to have widespread budget cuts and/or reductions in force (RIFs)?

We are currently in the first year of a two-year state budget, so state appropriations have already been approved in amounts that would cover current services as usual for the upcoming school year. TEA has provided guidance noting that while decisions such as closures and how to handle absences are still made at the local level, state funding will continue to flow as usual, and students who are being taught remotely are counted for purposes of school funding.

It is possible that changes might have to be made at the state level if the economic problems become long term and state revenues plunge to a point where these appropriations are no longer possible. And local school district revenues might also take a hit if citizens are unable to pay their property tax bills. TCTA will be monitoring the budget situation closely and will work to ensure that decision-makers prioritize spending for public education.

3. How will reimbursement be calculated for English Learners (EL) summer school?

According to 2019-20 English Learner Summer School Guidance and FAQ (updated 5/27/20) TEA explains how reimbursement will be calculated:

  • Reimbursement amounts will be based on teaching units with 18 students or a fraction thereof, regardless of method of delivery. Allotments will be prorated on this unit value.
  • Based on 2019 EL summer school program costs, LEAs received reimbursements of approximately $1,300 per unit. This is subject to change based on the number of total units statewide for 2020 EL summer school.
  • Business managers should be informed that the fund code is 289 and that payment to the LEA will be provided through direct deposit.

4. Will districts be reimbursed for technology and other necessary materials if the EL summer school requirement is offered virtually?

According to TEA's CARES Act Funding and Expense Reimbursement FAQ (5/28/20), districts will only be reimbursed for teaching units. Additional funds for technology, transportation, printing costs, additional staff, and other materials may be available through CARES funding. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Fact Sheet: Providing Services to English Learners During the COVID-19 Outbreak, recipients of subgrants under the CARES Act ESSERF and GEERF can generally use those grants for student internet access and devices to enable online learning as well as accessible technology for ELs with disabilities, among other uses of funds

5. Is it allowable to use Title II, Part A grant funds to pay our teachers for our summer school program this year in light of COVID-19's disturbance to the regular academic schedule that could possibly lead to an increase in summer school attendance?

According to TEA’s Federal Funding and Grants FAQ (5/28/20), generally, the only time teacher salaries are an allowable Title II, Part A expenditure is when you are adding teachers to reduce class size to a level that is evidence-based.

6. What funding is available under the federal CARES Act?

According to TEA's CARES Act Funding and Expense Reimbursement FAQ (5/21/20), multiple fund sources for K-12 education are included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. There are four that will potentially impact districts.

  • Section 18003, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) — a minimum of 90% of the ESSER grant to TEA will be allocated to districts that received Title I, Part A funding in school year 2019-20.
  • Title VIII of Division B, Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) — this funding will provide reimbursement to the small number of districts that provided childcare to the children of essential workers as defined in the statute
  • Section 5001, Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) — this funding is administered by the governor’s office and is designated for state, high population county and city uses; the governor and legislative leadership have approved an amount of the state’s portion of the CRF for use in reimbursing school systems for COVID-19 expenses
  • Title VIII of Division B, School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) — this funding is anticipated to be released by the US Department of Education in the fall and is expected to be a formula grant program which could fund some additional COVID-19 related expenditures

In addition to CARES Act funding, FEMA reimbursement will also be available to districts. The National School Lunch program also received additional funding under the CARES Act to support additional meals provided through their normal formula program.

For more information, see TCTA's Cares Act summary, TEA's CARES Act Funding and Expense Reimbursement FAQ (updated 5/21/20) and TEA's CARES Act Funding Support for districts (updated 6/18/20).

7. 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?

The entitlements are posted to the grant entitlements web page under the federal funds section of the TEA Grants web page.

The ESSER grant is distributed as a formula grant based on the proportionate share of the state’s Title I, Part A allocation received by each district in 2019-20. This is a statutory formula program and each eligible district will receive an entitlement amount for which they may apply by submitting the grant application. Only districts that are eligible, apply for, and received Title I, Part A funds in 2019-20 are eligible for ESSER grants.

The grant application will release in June. Training on the application will be made available around the opening date of the application. The grant period will end Sept. 30, 2022. All eligible expenditures must occur within the grant period.

8. 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?

Yes. Ninety percent (90%) of the ESSER funding is a formula grant program to districts based on a statutory formula. All these types of costs appear to be allowable costs under the ESSER grant program. The following activities are allowable under the grant as specified in the statute.

  • Districts discretion for any purpose under:
    • Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
    • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
    • Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA)
    • Perkins Career and Technical Education Act
    • McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act
  • Activities related to coordination of preparedness and response to improve coordinated responses among districts with state and local health departments and other relevant agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus
  • Provide principals and others school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools
  • Address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster students including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population
  • Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of districts
  • Training and professional development of district staff on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean facilities operated by the district
  • Planning for and coordinating during long term closures, including for how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for on line learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under IDEA, and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all federal, state and local requirements
  • Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment
  • Providing mental health services and supports
  • Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
  • Setting up and using technology to remotely register and enroll students or recruit and hire staff.
  • Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in districts and continuing to employ existing staff.

9. Is there TEA guidance on ESSER funding (CARES Act) and paying district employees and contractors?

Districts that receive ESSER funds are required, to the greatest extent practicable, to continue to pay employees and contractors during the period of any disruptions or closures related to Coronavirus. Related guidance is available at TEA’s Federal Funding and Grants FAQ (updated 5/21/20).

10. Can a district pay for normal operating costs like utilities with ESSER grant money?

According to TEA’s Federal Funding and Grants FAQ (updated 6/16/20), if the district can document normal operating costs like utilities as an allowable activity under the statutory allowable activities then it can pay for them with ESSER funds.

11. We need to purchase masks for the graduation ceremony for graduates and staff. Would it be best to purchase graduation items (masks, etc.) with Title IV or a local budget and then reimburse the funding source when ESSER funds are available?

According to TEA’s CARES Act Funding and Expense Reimbursement FAQ (5/28/20), it could be an allowable expense under either scenario; however, it will only be allowable if the school district is following the state’s guidance/rules for graduation ceremonies.

12. Are there any grants available to provide internet service for our students? We have some devices but paying for the service is more than our rural school can afford.

According to TEA’s CARES Act Funding and Expense Reimbursement FAQ (5/28/20), internet service for students would be an allowable expense for both the ESSER grant and the CRF reimbursement program. Many internet service providers also provide free or discounted rates for low-income students. Click here for more information.

13. Will receiving ESSER (CARES Act) formula funds result in a loss of Foundation School Program (FSP) State Aid?

According to TEA’s CARES Act Funding and Expense Reimbursement FAQ, districts will receive their full FSP entitlement as earned through the first two-thirds of the school year before school closures. In addition, districts will receive additional FSP hold harmless funding delivered via ADA/minutes adjustments to mitigate the financial impact of school closure. This additional hold harmless will be offset by the ESSER formula funding. For more information, see the General State Funding FAQ located on the TEA Coronavirus website under the Funding and Waivers.

14. Will there be proration in the Foundation School Program for either the 2019-20 or the 2020-21 school year?

According to TEA’s CARES Act Funding and Expense Reimbursement FAQ, FSP funding for the 2019-20 school year will not be prorated. However, the formula for the calculation of ADA hold harmless will be adjusted to ensure districts receive the full amount of ADA-driven expected funding (i.e., funding that excludes the transportation allotment) for the school year given all funding sources.

The General Appropriations Act provided sufficient funds for the FSP for 2020-21. However, significant economic uncertainty remains, and the size of the decline in state revenues relative to what was estimated in the Appropriations Act because of COVID-19 is currently unknown. Given the supplementation of funds from ESSER and reductions in actual vs expected spending, TEA does not currently project a need for proration, however the facts could change over the coming year.

15. Is all this CARES Act money from the feds going to supplement ADA funding flows or is it only to reimburse specific expenditures by specific schools?

According to TEA’s CARES Act Funding and Expense Reimbursement FAQ (5/28/20), currently there are two large funding streams from the CARES Act that will impact K-12 education in the state. (There are also several smaller funding streams.) The ESSER fund flows to school districts. A portion of the ESSER fund would supplement expected FSP funding in district budgets (roughly 5% of the ESSER formula total per LEA, which would be used to cover any requested private school equitable services, but if no/fewer requests are received, would be extra funding for any lawful purpose). The remainder will be used as a source of funds for the Foundation School Program ADA Hold Harmless, and so would not be supplemental funding.

The CRF is a reimbursement program. These are supplemental funds to school districts, intended to cover extra COVID-19 expenses.

16. Are we required to apply for the ESSER Grant? We would prefer to simply use our state general revenue funds instead of the compliance requirements imposed by the federal funds.

According to TEA’s CARES Act Funding and Expense Reimbursement FAQ (5/28/20), ESSER funds will be used as a method of finance for the FSP for all districts that are entitled to receive the funds through the Title I allocation methodology prescribed by the grant and in the amount outlined in the Entitlements Document located on the TEA Coronavirus website. A school district is not technically required to apply; however, the amount of ESSER grant funds to which each school district is entitled (minus 5% private school equitable services) will be incorporated while calculating the ADA hold harmless adjustment, regardless of whether the school district applies for the grant or not. If a school district does not apply for the ESSER grant, this would result in a net loss of overall revenue.

17. Is the ESSER grant separate and in addition to regular formula (FSP) funding? And then the regular formula (FSP) funding will be part FSP/part ESSER?

According to TEA’s CARES Act Funding and Expense Reimbursement FAQ (5/28/20), the ESSER grant is a new, federal fund source that is separate from a school district’s FSP allotment. However, because ESSER Funding will actually be used as a method of finance for the 2019-20 ADA Hold Harmless, school districts must combine the ESSER grant with the remainder of the normal FSP allotment in order to account for the total FSP allotment, as previously expected prior to COVID-19:

  • TEA waived the necessary statutory requirements so school systems would be held harmless for the lack of in-person attendance required to receive formula funding.
  • The CARES Act’s ESSER fund is a critical resource to support this hold harmless process. ESSER funds do not have a supplement versus supplant requirement, and federal guidance explicitly authorizes their use as a way for states to sustain their school finance system, as long as net state funding remains above prior years. With historic increases to state funding through HB 3, funding is significantly above prior years.
  • TEA will calculate how much CARES Act ESSER formula funding a school district is going to get, excluding 5% of that CARES formula total to ensure each school district has an amount of funding sufficient to cover the private school equitable services requirements in the CARES Act.
  • TEA will use that CARES Act formula funding (excluding the 5%) to help fund the full amount of each school district’s ADA hold harmless adjustment and the result will be that school districts will receive their full year’s ADA funding expectation but from two funding streams – one state, via the FSP, and one federal, via CARES Act ESSER funds.
  • Utilizing ESSER funds as a method of finance will assist in maintaining state funding for future years.

18. How will the agency calculate Foundation School Program ADA funding for the 2019-20 school year given that schools won’t have daily attendance information for a large number of school days this year?

According to TEA’s General State Funding FAQs (5/28/20), TEA will take the average daily attendance (ADA) as calculated through the end of the fourth six weeks, and then adjust the resulting ADA to account for historical differences in rates of attendance from the first four six-week periods and the last two six-week periods. Once ADA is adjusted for historical rates of attendance, TEA will then reduce ADA in an amount necessary to ensure each LEA receives total state and CARES funding equal to the amount that would have been available through the FSP plus an amount to cover equitable services for private schools.

19. When will districts find out the amount of the ESSER reduction to their refined ADA?

According to TEA’s General State Funding FAQs (5/28/20), the actual ADA reduction will be calculated as part of near final settle-up in September 2020. While school districts can attempt to model the amount of the ADA reduction using existing state funding templates, TEA can't estimate the ADA reduction required until after they incorporate the adjusted PEIMS refined ADA into the summary of finances in September 2020. However, TEA is also planning to update the school finance excel template to incorporate the ESSER grant amounts later this summer.

20. Besides the ESSER grant, does CARES Act provide any other assistance to reimburse districts for COVID-19 related expenditures?

The CARES Act also includes $6.2 billion in the Coronavirus Relief Fund from the U.S. Department of Treasury for statewide purposes. The governor and legislative leadership have approved an amount of the state’s portion of the CRF for use in reimbursing school systems for COVID-19 expenses incurred as of close of business May 20, 2020. As a result, TEA is creating an expense reimbursement application process similar to that used by FEMA.

21. How much reimbursement can we anticipate receiving under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act)?

Districts will be eligible for up to 75% of additive expenses incurred as of close of business May 20, 2020, to be reimbursed subject to a cap per district, and subject to CRF funding availability as described below. Each district will be capped at a reimbursement amount equal to the greater of $50,000 or an amount equal to $250 per compensatory education (SCE) student in the district. This would allow for every district, regardless of size or SCE student count, to receive at least $50,000 assuming they incurred at least $67,000 in underlying reimbursable expenses. For districts with more than 200 SCE students, their reimbursement would be capped at an amount equal to $250 per SCE student. This reimbursement will not be provided in addition to reimbursement from other expense reimbursement sources.

22. What is the timeline for requesting the reimbursement under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act)?

The application will open on or around July 20, 2020, and close on Sept. 15, 2020. Once all applications are received and the application window is closed, TEA will calculate the amount eligible for reimbursement for all districts across the state who submitted applications. After the individual reimbursements are calculated, and the district’s application is reviewed, negotiated, and approved, the district will receive the Notice of Grant Award (NOGA). After the NOGA is received, the district may drawdown the funds for reimbursement. The district may request payment for reimbursement from the date the NOGA is received until December 15, 2020.

23. What costs are allowable to be reimbursed under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act)?

To be allowable, reimbursements for necessary costs must:

  • Have been incurred due to COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Not be accounted for in the most recently approved budget as of March 27, 2020; and
  • Be incurred from March 1, 2020, through May 20, 2020. This statutory requirement constitutes a supplement, not supplant provision for CRF funds. The Department of Treasury guidance document specifically lists the following types of education costs.
  • Expenses to facilitate distance learning, including technological improvements, in connection with school closings to enable compliance with COVID-19 precautions; and
  • Other eligible expenditures include payroll and benefit costs of educational support staff or faculty responsible for developing online learning capabilities necessary to continue educational instruction in response to COVID-19-related school closures.

24. Is the cost of printing curriculum packets a reimbursable COVID-related expense?

According to TEA’s CARES Act Funding and Expense Reimbursement FAQ (5/28/20), it is reimbursable, as long as the expenses are supplemental and meet the following three requirements:

  • Have been incurred due to COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Were not accounted for in the most recently approved budget as of March 27, 2020; and
  • Were incurred from March 1, 2020, through May 20, 2020. Printing curriculum packets for instructional continuity is also an allowable expense under the ESSER formula grant.

25. Are there unallowable costs under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CARES Act)?

Payroll expenses for general district employees are unallowable. However, payroll costs of district staff or faculty responsible for developing online learning capabilities necessary to continue educational instruction in response to COVID-19-related school closures may be allowable.

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