AUSTIN, Texas - Gov. Greg Abbott has announced new guidance from the Texas Education Agency on graduation ceremonies, in addition to expanding the list of businesses and activities that can reopen in Texas.
The TEA is providing four different pathways for schools to celebrate their graduating seniors, and each district can determine if any of these options best serve the needs and desires of their community:
- Completely virtual ceremonies using videoconference or other technologies
- Hybrid ceremonies with a compilation of videos of students being recognized in person as they celebrate graduation in small groups
- Vehicle ceremonies where students and their families wait in their cars while other graduates are recognized one at a time with their families alongside them
- Outdoor in-person ceremonies that follow certain rules from TEA
Outdoor in-person ceremonies held May 15-31 can take place in a rural county that has an attestation as described in the Governor's Report to Open Texas that remains in effect seven days prior to the ceremony. An outdoor ceremony can be held in any Texas county on or after June 1.
The TEA also provided a full FAQ about graduating seniors, including updated graduation requirements, class rank and GPA and awarding of credit and diplomas.
MORE BUSINESSES TO BE ALLOWED TO REOPEN
In addition to the new guidance on graduations, Abbott announced Tuesday he will be issuing an Executive Order to expand the list of businesses and activities allowed to reopen in Texas.
On Friday, May 8, cosmetology salons, hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and shops, and other establishments where licensed cosmetologists or barbers practice their trade, may open but must ensure at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations. Tanning salons may also reopen under the same rules. Also starting May 8, swimming pools may open subject to certain limitations, including on their occupancy or operating levels.
Beginning May 18, office buildings may open with the greater of five or fewer individuals or 25 percent of the total office workforce. These individuals must maintain appropriate social distancing.
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Gyms, exercise facilities, and exercise classes may also open on May 18, but must operate at 25 percent occupancy. Locker rooms and shower facilities will remain closed, but restrooms may open. According to Abbott, equipment must be sanitized after every use and any equipment brought into the gym, such as yoga mats or weights, must be disinfected before and after use. Customers are also advised to wear gloves that cover the whole hand and fingers when using gym equipment.
Non-essential manufacturing services may also open on May 18 but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25 percent. These newly opened services are subject to recommended minimum standard health protocols outlined by DSHS.
Wedding venues and services required to conduct weddings may immediately open, says Abbott. Weddings held indoors other than at a church, congregation, or house of worship must limit occupancy to 25 percent. Wedding reception services may also resume, but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy. These occupancy limits do not apply to the outdoor areas of a wedding reception or to outdoor wedding receptions.
SURGE RESPONSE TEAMS FORMED
Surge Response Teams, led by the Texas Department of Emergency Management and Texas Health and Human Services and include representatives from the Texas Military Department, Department of State Health Services, the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force, and BCFS Health and Human Services, were announced Tuesday. The teams will serve nursing homes, prisons, packing pants, and other facilities that experience flare-ups of COVID-19 by providing PPE, testing supplies, onsite staffing, and assessment assistance.
According to the governor's office, these teams will also work with local officials to establish health and social distancing standards to contain any flare-ups. Several teams have already been deployed to locations across the state.
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