Database tracking COVID cases in schools
The state's database to track COVID-19 cases in schools is now online. Below the chart is a link to a spreadsheet that breaks the data down by district. The tracker will be updated each Wednesday as school districts report positive cases to TEA. While the overall rate of students and staff testing positive so far is low (about 0.31% of students and 0.35% of educators), cases are climbing as more districts expand in-person learning, and health officials urge districts to continue safe practices, such as requiring face masks, keeping social distance and washing hands and sanitizing surfaces frequently.

Some districts, like Roosevelt ISD, are suspending remote learning, while others, such as Alpine ISD, moved all high school students back to remote learning and canceled football games after exposure to COVID-19.

At TCTA, our attorneys continue to hear from teachers who have concerns for their health and safety, but we're also getting a few reports of things districts are doing right. In Angleton ISD, for example, the district has dedicated staff for virtual learning, rather than relying on teachers to provide lessons to students in classrooms and online at the same time. There also are physical barriers in bathrooms and classrooms to promote social distancing, especially among younger students. And in Spring Hill ISD, officials are considering releasing students early on Fridays to give teachers Friday afternoons for planning.

Look, lock and learn
Schools across the country are running into security issues like hackers breaking into Zoom sessions. The FBI issued a warning this summer that “cyber actors are likely to increase targeting of K12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic because they represent an opportunistic target as more of these institutions transition to distance learning.”

New research from the Center for Democracy and Technology suggests parents are also concerned about their children's digital privacy. To help, the Cyber Innovation Center created a learning standards initiative with benchmarks states can adopt to improve K-12 cybersecurity.

TEA also released some best practices for online teaching, including making sure your application/software is running on the newest version and that online meetings are secured with passwords and waiting rooms to prevent unwelcome attendees.

Check out the newest updates to our COVID-19 FAQs on 2020-21 Education Issues. This week we:
While this information is not legal advice, we hope it helps answer questions you may have about COVID-19's impact on schools. Members who have specific concerns or questions should call the Legal Department at 888-879-8282 to speak with a staff attorney.
TEA releases fourth video in Project Restore training series

Teachers can earn up to 6 CPE hours by completing TEA's Project Restore courses online. The trauma-informed training videos are designed to help educators meet their emotional needs and the needs of their students during the coronavirus pandemic. New videos are released each Thursday, and four are now available for viewing. Click here to get started.
Courts dismiss 7th grader's suit over sexual harassment

A seventh grader sued her school district, claiming that it had failed to protect her from sexual harassment from other students. The student claimed that she was subjected to physical harassment, and further alleged that two male students wrote her an inappropriate note and that she was called a "snitch" and a "ho" by female students. The school district requested that the lawsuit be dismissed, and the district court granted that request. The student appealed to the Court of Appeals, which also dismissed the case, finding that the district investigated the student's concerns and imposed discipline where claims were substantiated. Click here to read more.
Register for a virtual info session about TRS-Care

Registration is now open for 2020 TRS-Care virtual info sessions. These webinars will help retired education employees, or those considering retirement, learn more about the TRS-Care Standard and TRS-Care Medicare Advantage plans for 2021. They also will introduce the vendors that will administer TRS health plans starting on Jan. 1. Click here for more information or to register.
Save on admission to SixFlags HALLOWFEST

TCTA members can experience thrills by day and chills by night at HALLOWFEST on weekends from Sept. 26 to Nov. 1 at SixFlags Over Texas in Arlington. Admission is $37.99 per person plus tax. Discounted season passes for 2021 also are available for $54.99 plus tax for a limited time, with free parking and free admission to Hurricane Harbor in 2021. Click here to buy tickets with TCTA's username: TEXCLASSOT and password: SixFlags9.

Please note: Reservations are required to ensure social distancing at SixFlags theme parks. Once you buy tickets (or if you hold a season pass), you must make a reservation online for entry to the park.
If you haven't renewed yet, time is running out!
Don't go unprotected, renew by Wednesday, Sept. 30, to avoid a lapse in your professional liability insurance coverage!

Recruit your colleagues with Take 2/Make $25
We put together this video of the Top 10 Reasons to Join TCTA. Share it with your colleagues and encourage them to join TCTA. You could earn $25 for every two eligible Active-level members you recruit. Click here for details.
  • Sept. 15-Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month.
  • Oct. 5 is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election.
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