CDC changes definition of close contact for COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on COVID-19 transmission Wednesday, redefining "close contact" as having been within 6 feet of someone infected with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes in a day. This includes multiple, brief encounters totaling 15 minutes rather than the previous definition, which only applied to those within 6 feet for 15 consecutive minutes. The CDC also continues to urge people to wear face masks and avoid large gatherings as COVID-19 cases climb in Texas and other states.

The new definition could have a big impact on schools as it expands the number of people who are at risk and need to quarantine. TEA is expected to update its guidance to reflect the CDC's new definition of close contact, but had not done so as of Thursday afternoon. This could mean more temporary school closures for disinfection and shifts to remote learning when a student or teacher tests positive. The state continues to update its COVID-19 dashboard for school districts every Thursday, and said this week it will start to report campus data in the coming weeks in an attempt to make it more useful.

Houston ISD students began in-person learning this week for the first time in the 2020-21 school year, and already 16 campuses have closed as a precaution after positive COVID-19 tests. Meanwhile, more small, rural districts are opting to suspend remote learning for most students, in some cases requiring teachers to return to campus despite medical accommodations and giving parents little time to make alternative plans.

Funds available for special education students

Gov. Greg Abbott and TEA announced this week that $30 million in federal CARES Act funding would be available to families of some students with disabilities to use for supplemental services to offset pandemic-related learning disruptions. Up to $1,500 per student will be available to eligible families for payment to TEA-approved vendors for qualified services, including private tutoring, educational services and therapies from a licensed or accredited practitioner, instructional materials, and technology. Click here to read more.

Check out what's new in our COVID-19 FAQs

We continue to update our COVID-19 FAQs on 2020-21 Education Issues to help members understand guidance from federal and state officials.
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.
Paraprofessional files grievance over job change

A paraprofessional filed a grievance with her school district after her position as an office manager in the Food Services division was targeted for elimination for budgetary reasons. In her grievance, she stated that she believed her position was being eliminated because she had raised concerns about billings from Southwest Food Service and because she complained about a hostile work environment. She asked to remain employed in the same capacity, but without having contact with the employee who was the subject of the complaint, and was instead offered a different job at the same pay grade. Click here to read more.
One more week of early voting

More than one-third of Texans have cast ballots in early voting for the Nov. 3 general election. Several cities are reporting record turnout for early voting, which continues through Oct. 30. If you're eligible to vote by mail, Oct. 23, is the deadline to apply for a ballot. Check out for more about candidates for the Texas House and Senate, including voting records on education issues and survey responses, and go to to see what's on the ballot where you live.
Applications due Friday for Spanish resource reviewers

Safal Partners is seeking Texas educators with expertise in Spanish Prekindergarten, Spanish Foundational Literacy and Spanish Language Arts and Reading (grades K-5 only) to participate in the Texas Resource Review. Those selected as reviewers will receive continuing professional education credit and a stipend of at least $2,500. Click here to apply by Oct. 23.
Educators needed to review certification exams

TEA and Pearson are seeking Texas educators to participate in an Online Examination Materials Review Conference for the Texas Educator Certification Examination program. Below are brief descriptions of the test development activities that approved committee members will be asked to take part in during this conference in December: 
  • Equity Assurance: Each panel will review draft exam materials to verify that the materials are free from potential issues of fairness and reflect the diversity of Texas. In the application, you can indicate availability for one or more sessions.  
  • Item Review: Each committee will review draft exam items to verify that the content is accurate and appropriate for testing educator certification candidates in Texas, according to criteria designated for this program. Participants attend only one committee in their area of expertise.  
Encourage your colleagues to join TCTA with Take 2/Make $25!

Encourage your colleagues to join TCTA and you could earn $25 for every two eligible Active-level members you recruit through Dec. 31 with our Take 2/Make $25 program. Click here for details. If you need printed brochures, pens or other materials to share on campus, please call the Membership Department at 888-879-8282 or email
  • Oct. 31 is Halloween.
  • Fall back: Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 1.
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