Do you have whiplash yet?

Yet another decision has been made at the state level that will result in schools opening for in-person instruction even if a local health authority has ordered closure.

The legal guidance by Attorney General Ken Paxton reverses earlier guidance from the Texas Education Agency providing that districts would be eligible to receive state funding for remote instruction if they were operating remotely due to a local health order.

In a letter released Tuesday addressed to Stephenville mayor Doug Svien, who had requested the guidance, Paxton said, “Local health authorities may not issue blanket orders closing all schools in their jurisdiction on a purely prophylactic basis. The decision to close schools on such a preventative basis whether public or private — remains with school system leaders who should consult with relevant public health authorities, including the Department [of State Health Services] and local health authorities.” (It should be noted that although school system leaders may have such authority, according to TEA guidance the state will not provide funding to a district that holds remote-only instruction except in very limited circumstances.)

TCTA is appalled at the notion that in a situation where local health authorities may deem conditions unsafe for in-person schooling, the state is essentially forcing districts to bring students and teachers onto campuses. We continue to maintain that decisions regarding health issues should be made free of political influences, and that district officials should rely only on scientific data and metrics approved by health officials to determine whether it is appropriate to provide in-person instruction.