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

TEA will allow a four-week transition process to start the 2020-21 school year during which school systems may temporarily limit access to on-campus instruction. This period can be extended an additional four weeks with school board approval. TEA said, "As a result, some parents opting for their student(s) to attend on campus may be required to start with remote instruction temporarily, although any family who does not have internet access and/or devices for distance learning at home is still entitled to have their student receive on campus instruction each day during this transition period, as they are during the rest of the year."

Click here to see TEA's complete Public Health Planning Guidance, which includes procedures to:

  • PROVIDE NOTICE: Requirements for parental and public notices
  • PREVENT: Required practices to prevent the virus from entering the school
  • RESPOND: Required practices to respond to a lab-confirmed case in the school
  • MITIGATE: Recommended and required practices to reduce likely spread inside the school

With the public health planning guidance, TEA also updated its guidance on attendance. Click here for our summary of the changes.

TEA's new guidelines follow Gov. Greg Abbott's announcement earlier in the day that the state would allocate $200 million to help districts purchase eLearning equipment, such as routers, hotspots and tablets, to give to students who lack access to technology at home. Click here to read more.

TCTA appreciates the enhanced flexibility provided in the new state guidance released by TEA; however, we have ongoing concerns that state mandates may not allow districts to take the actions they feel necessary to protect their students and employees throughout the school year.

“Our message hasn’t changed, and the new guidance doesn’t include what we consider the most critical component in determining how and to what extent schools should be open: reliance on data and public health experts to determine when it is safe for students and employees to return to campus,” said Jeri Stone, TCTA executive director, in a release to the media.