Gov. Greg Abbott on May 18, 2020, announced his next wave of reopenings designed to restart the Texas economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying child care facilities can reopen immediately, bars can open May 22 with limited capacity and sporting events can return without fans at the end of the month.

The latest executive order includes a provision that in-person summer school can begin as early as June 1, with appropriate social distancing and sanitation measures. We do not yet know how many districts will plan to open so soon — or at all this summer — but some teachers and other personnel may receive a request or offer from their district to work on campus in the near future.

Summer school employment is a supplemental duty that would not be covered by a contract for the 2020-21 school year. Whether you have a contractual duty to work in summer school depends on whether you have entered into a binding contract to do so. 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.

The Texas Education Agency has provided guidance on summer school. TEA notes that 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 11. 

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."

Note, however, that school employees who are signed up for summer school will not necessarily be allowed to work remotely and could be required to physically teach at a school.

If you are thinking about taking a summer school position, TCTA suggests that you ask to see your school's plan for following health and safety guidelines; read TCTA's FAQ, including our discussions regarding required in-person attendance at school; and call TCTA's legal department at 888-879-8282 with any specific questions.