TEA Relaxes – Slightly – Rules on COVID Closures

If you’ve wondered if your district might opt to close altogether after Thanksgiving break because of the increasing COVID-19 infection rate, the state agency that has oversight of public education is not exactly leaping up to let that happen.

New updates to Texas Education Agency guidance for the school year released today only make a couple of changes when it comes to closures – and neither involve allowing districts to shut down entirely because of community spread.

The agency instead said that districts can close down campuses to on-campus instruction and offer remote-only for up to 14 calendar days if “a significant number of the instructional staff at the campus is impacted due to a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak, such as the campus can no longer be sufficiently staffed for instruction even when making appropriate operational adjustments.”

The closure must only be for the specific campus with the outbreak, and the closure period doesn’t end until the campus has reopened for on-campus instruction for at least a day.

Previously, closures were limited to five days.

Districts can close schools for other reasons (such as increased COVID-19 infection rates), but those reasons will only allow them half days, which means that if a school went to remote-only for 14 days, they would have to make up seven days.

You can see all of the guidance, including the updates, here.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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