House committee hears bill to address sanctions for some late resignations

The House Public Education Committee met Tuesday to hear 10 bills, including one that would help prevent excessive sanctions against teachers who resign after the deadline in certain circumstances. The committee advanced seven bills for possible consideration by the full House.

In other action this week:
  • The House Pensions Committee heard the TRS Sunset bill and voted out a bill to study health insurance options for retired teachers.
  • Subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee started work on budget revisions, including funds for education.
  • The Senate Education Committee reviewed several bills, including one TCTA opposes that would eliminate the State Board of Education's ability to veto charter school applications. It also advanced four bills.

Throughout the session, you can find daily Updates from the Capitol and track key legislation related to education in our Bill Summaries.
More districts joining Teacher Incentive Allotment program

House Bill 3 in the 2019 session created the Teacher Incentive Allotment program under which teachers can achieve Recognized, Exemplary and Master designations and earn additional funding for their campus. Funding ranges from $3,000 to $32,000 per year, and at least 90% must be used for salaries on the designated teacher's campus. Click here to read more. 

Participating districts must create a local teacher designation system approved by TEA. (National Board Certified teachers automatically earn a Recognized designation, regardless of whether their district has an approved local system.) Twenty-six districts were approved in 2019-20 and more districts have recently begun the process. Click here to see if your district is on the list.
CDC: 3 feet apart OK in schools if students are wearing masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 guidance for schools on Friday, saying students in elementary schools could maintain 3 feet of distance instead of 6 feet when masks are worn and community transmission is low. It said adults and many middle and high schoolers should continue following the 6-foot rule.

School boards in Texas can lift a district's mask mandate after an official public meeting and a vote to discuss it. TCTA reminds members that they can speak during public hearings to share their views on masks or any other issues on the board's agenda. Based on recent media reports, a few districts have voted to make masks optional. Others made masks optional for outdoor activities only. Most districts appear to be keeping masks and other social distancing policies in place through the end of the school year.

What TCTA members say about masks in school

In our March 11-24 survey about face masks and vaccines, 83% of respondents said their district is keeping its mask mandate in place, 8% are still deciding, and 8% said their districts voted to make masks optional.

If masks were optional, 61% said they'd keep wearing them on campus, 11% said they'd wear masks sometimes and 29% said they would not wear masks (results have been rounded). Click here to view the complete results.
Share your pandemic experience with us
TCTA is looking for members willing to share their experiences during the pandemic in the spring issue of The Classroom Teacher. What have you learned? What's helped you connect with students (in-person or virtually)? What has inspired or motivated you to keep teaching (or counseling, or working as a paraprofessional, librarian, school nurse or substitute) this year? If you'd like to be included to help us highlight how resilient educators have been, please email communications@tcta.org by April 5.
All Texans age 16 & up eligible for vaccines starting Monday

Beginning Monday, all adults in Texas are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. Those age 16 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine, but Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are only for age 18 and older. The Texas Department of State Health Services announced the expansion and said it expects vaccine supplies to increase beginning next week. Those age 80 and older will be given priority access. About 11% of Texans are fully vaccinated.

According to our recent survey, 60% of respondents have already received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 15% plan to get one, and 25% said they did not want to be vaccinated. Vaccination remains voluntary.

Want to schedule a vaccination appointment? Check out these websites:
Many school districts are also helping employees schedule vaccinations.

We have all the latest state and federal guidance in our COVID-19 FAQs on 2020-21 Education Issues. This week we updated guidance on vaccines. This information is not legal advice, so members who have specific concerns or questions should call the Legal Department at 888-879-8282.
Parents claim district failed to provide proper services for son

Parents filed a due process complaint against their child's school district, alleging that the district failed to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education to their son as required by federal law. The hearing examiner assigned to consider the case by TEA determined that the district had properly provided a FAPE. The parents appealed that decision to district court and the Court of Appeals. Click here to find out why both courts ruled the district met its requirements in creating and implementing an IEP for the child.
New job board posts positions in rural Texas school districts

The Texas Rural Education Association now has a job board listing open positions in rural districts across the state. Application deadlines are approaching for some of the positions open for the 2021-22 school year, and more jobs will be added soon. Click here to explore or apply.
Enter the TicketsatWork sweepstakes by March 31

Don't miss your chance to win prizes, including a $500 gift card, in the TicketsatWork Perks of Appreciation Sweepstakes. Click on the sweepstakes button then log in or become a member using company code SWTCTA to enter. One entry per day is allowed through March 31. TicketsatWork will notify winners in April.

While you're logged in, check out the deals on travel and entertainment. The Stay@Home section includes discounts on electronics, food delivery, health and wellness, pet perks and more. Everyone gets $25 off a purchase of $250 or more with the promo code WEAPPRECIATEYOU, valid through March 31.

TCTA members can also click here to log in and explore all our cost-saving programs, including updated links for tickets and season passes to SixFlags and Hurricane Harbor parks in Arlington, San Antonio and Spring.
Don't forget: TCTA awards nominations are due April 5

TCTA's statewide awards honor those who have made outstanding contributions to public education, the teaching profession or TCTA during the past year. Categories for members include:
  • Leader of the Year
  • Faculty Representative of the Year
  • Paraprofessional of the Year
  • Retiree of the Year
We'll also honor an Administrator of the Year, name a Friend of Education in the Private Citizen category and bestow the Silver Apple Media Award.

Nominations are due April 5. Click here for more information and forms.
  • March 31 is Cesar Chavez Day.
  • Easter is April 4. (TCTA Headquarters will be closed April 2 and April 5.)
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