TEA releases guidelines for reopening schools amid coronavirus pandemic

The Texas Education Agency released its highly anticipated guidelines for both in-person and virtual learning this fall.

The TEA’s memo touches on some safety measures. and mentions the state is committed to the health and safety of students and staff while providing quality education.

Key items in the ‘Safe Return to Campus’ guidelines include what’s already been talked about. Parents will have the option to choose on-campus or remote learning. For remote learning, the commitment is for a full grading period of 6 or 9 weeks.

Students and staff and visitors will be screened before allowed on campus.

Masks will be required in school buildings with limited exceptions, assuming the governor’s order is still in place.

Also, the state will provide tens of millions worth of personal protective equipment to districts and reimburse districts for COVID-19 related expenses made during the 2019- 2020 school year.

Equipment and teacher training for remote learning support will be provided at no cost to districts.

The state’s communication advises for classroom instruction desks should be at least six feet apart for social distancing, with student assemblies strongly discouraged.

For parents still deciding, it’s noted you can delay up to two weeks before school starts about making the decision about campus versus remote learning.

Sunnyvale ISD is still finalizing its back to school plan. One option allows school districts to ramp up in-person learning over the course of the first three weeks of school.

“It does give us the possibility that if the outbreak especially in Dallas County continues, we might have the option of pushing school start time back,” said Sunnyvale ISD Superintendent Doug Williams. “We don't anticipate doing that right now.”

Governor Greg Abbott spoke about the guidelines during an interview with FOX 7 Austin.

“We all know things change very rapidly with the coronavirus,” he said. “Who knows if the mask order will still be in place when the school year begins.”

The TEA also recommends that all teachers and staff check their temperatures before school each day. Schools are advised to screen students as well, but they are not required to perform temperature checks on each child.

“That's where the flexibility is needed for school districts that make decisions that keep people safe. The students, the employees and for the families,” said Rena Honea, president of the Alliance AFT

“The best location for a child for learning is in a classroom with teachers and other students,” Abbott said. “However, we know with COVID that may not be possible. So as a result, we already have distant learning already set up.”

Fort Worth ISD released a statement saying guidance from the TEA is right in line with plans it's making for the upcoming school year.

Sunnyvale ISD is hosting a virtual community summit with parents on Monday to get input and finalize their plan.