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Statewide News
With a full plate of controversial bills to go, Texas House committee OKs funding for virtual learning
SB 15 passed in the Texas House Public Education Committee approving state funding for virtual learning through September 2023. Districts will be given the power to set up their own virtual learning programs within the established guardrails including limiting numbers to 10% of the school population and the elimination of hybrid teaching.
COVID-19 confusion: Here’s what schools are required to tell parents when coronavirus hits a campus
TEA has released new guidance mandating that public schools notify teachers, staff, and families of any confirmed COVID-19 case in a classroom or extracurricular program where they participated; however, the guidance does not stipulate the type of information that must be included in the notification. Schools are not required by the state to contact trace, but must inform parents of any learned “close contacts”.  
Texas extends pandemic benefits for families whose kids have lost access to free or reduced-price meals
All families with students on free or reduced lunch are eligible for a $375 summer payment of Pandemic food aid that can be used anywhere that accepts SNAP payments. The benefit provides food aid for the 3.7 million eligible low income children in Texas who lost access to meals when schools first closed during the pandemic.
National News
New Guidance Reaffirms Importance of Full Implementation of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
The US Department of Education has issued guidance to state and local partners to ensure that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate education regardless of the mode of instruction or pandemic challenges. The guidance documents provide resources to ensure student success and include strategies for using American Rescue Plan funds.
Masks Won’t Slow Language for Kids If There’s Plenty of Face Time at Home, Expert Says
As mask mandates are implemented in schools, experts say face-to-face time when children are unmasked at home will be increasingly vital for language acquisition. Returning to even some in-person learning will serve as a protective factor for mental health as children deal with the stressors of the past year. 
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