COVID-19 cases reported as school starts
With the school year under way in many districts across Texas, the media reports new COVID-19 cases in schools among students and staff. For example, Ore City ISD sent home two second grade classes after a student tested positive, and Chilton ISD postponed in-person instruction after an employee and student-athlete showed COVID-19 symptoms. (You can find more recent cases reported in our Education News Headlines.)

State Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced this afternoon in a weekly call with superintendents a joint data collection effort with the Texas Department of State Health Services for school systems to report confirmed cases to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The data will be made publicly available on the state health department’s website. TEA will release more information on the requirements and the process related to the data collection next week, and TCTA will update members on issues related to COVID-19 reporting in an upcoming email.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced today that the state has procured more than 1 million personal devices and Wi-Fi hotspots as part of the state's Operation Connectivity initiative to provide students with equipment for remote learning.

TCTA addresses reopening concerns in Lamar CISD
TCTA's staff attorneys have been fielding many questions from members who are concerned about their health and safety as schools reopen. Tonight, Julie Leahy will address the Lamar CISD school board on behalf of Lamar CTA members who are concerned about their district's reopening plans. TCTA will continue efforts like this at the district level as we also push state officials to ensure districts follow recommendations by health officials as they navigate COVID-19 in their communities this year.

Victory for Cypress-Fairbanks teachers short-lived
Many of you may have read that another teacher association, using outside counsel, filed a lawsuit and received a temporary restraining order to prohibit Cypress-Fairbanks ISD from requiring on-campus professional development for teachers. The litigation generated considerable publicity, but the TRO was quickly dissolved by the Texas Supreme Court, and the organization, as we understand it, has now dropped the litigation presumably in order to avoid further bad rulings that may be referenced by other districts.

Meanwhile, 10 Houston-area school superintendents sent a letter to Harris County officials arguing that face-to-face student instruction should resume earlier than local health authorities suggest.

TCTA revamps COVID-19 FAQs for 2020-21
As part of our revamp of our COVID-19 FAQ on 2020-21 Education Issues, this week we:

While this information is not legal advice, we hope it helps as you start the new year. Members who have concerns or questions should call the Legal Department at 888-879-8282 to speak with a staff attorney.
TCTA attorneys talk about returning to work amid COVID

TCTA staff attorneys Michael Currie and Gerald Francisco discussed some frequently asked questions about returning to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic during last month's Regional Workshop training for local leaders. We have excerpted that part of the presentation, which includes information about ADA, FMLA and sick leave, and added it to our COVID-19 videos on YouTube. Click here to watch it.
TEA guidance emphasizes staff wellness, resiliency

Recognizing that "supporting the social and emotional well-being and resilience of staff is critical for creating a positive school climate,” TEA released guidance this week on educator wellness. It suggests districts form a mental health/well-being team to help assess and support staff during the school year. Click here to read more.
TEA recommends approval of 8 charters as lawmaker demands audit of IDEA schools

Education Commissioner Mike Morath notified the State Board of Education this week that he recommends the approval of eight Generation Twenty-Five charters to allow them to begin operation in the 2021-22 school year. SBOE members are expected to discuss Morath's decision and issue a final ruling on each charter application during their September meeting.

Morath's decision came in the same week that State Rep. Terry Canales called for a comprehensive state audit of the IDEA Public Schools following recent disclosures of lavish expenditures for its executives. IDEA plans to double its student enrollment and open 21 new charter campuses in Texas by the end of 2021, and Canales wants to ensure that the nearly $500 million the state gives IDEA each year is properly spent on educating Texas students.
Have you renewed your TCTA membership for 2020-21 yet?

This school year is sure to be unpredictable. Don't go unprotected, renew today!
If you have already renewed, thank you! Membership cards are being mailed twice a week as forms are processed, but the U.S. Post Office is experiencing some delays in delivery. Please allow 2-3 weeks for your card to arrive.

Recruit your colleagues with Take 2/Make $25!
Encourage your coworkers to join TCTA and you could earn $25 for every two new Active-level members you recruit. Our forms are paperless this year, so ask your co-workers to enter your TCTA member number in the Take 2 box.
  • Labor Day is Sept. 7.
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