Judge strikes down equitable services rule
Public schools will not be required to send as much CARES Act funding to private schools after a federal judge struck down a U.S. Department of Education rule issued in July.

The CARES Act included a provision requiring school districts receiving funds to provide equitable services to non-public schools in the same manner as provided under Title I of the ESEA. However, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued guidance that directed school districts to determine how much CARES Act money to spend on services for private school students based on total enrollment in private schools, rather than on student poverty levels. Now that the rule has been struck down, TEA said districts should recalculate allocations based on low-income private school students, freeing up more funds for public schools. Click here to read more.

State expanding capacity at restaurants, retail
While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been on the decline across most of Texas, Gov. Abbott warned residents to remain vigilant as the state expands the capacity allowed in most businesses, including restaurants, to 75% starting Monday. Bars will remain closed, and capacity will remain smaller in the state's hardest hit areas, which include the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo and Victoria. Abbott and health officials encouraged people to continue to wear masks in public and practice social distancing.

Despite the overall reduction, COVID-19 cases are increasing among children and college students. In the Austin area, youth tested positive at rates nearly three times higher than adults last week. School districts in East Texas have postponed football games due to COVID-19 cases and Fort Worth ISD voted this week to delay in-person instruction until Oct. 5.

TCTA's COVID-19 Question of the Week
Can an employee decline to report to work due to a lack of childcare for their own children resulting from school closures?
The "Families First Coronavirus Response Act" provides that an employee caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or whose childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions is eligible for 12 weeks of paid leave at the rate of 2/3 of the regular rate of pay, not to exceed $200 per day. This provides 12 weeks of paid leave that would otherwise potentially be unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

According to an U.S. Department of Labor addition to its frequently asked questions, an employee is eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA on days when their child is not permitted to attend school in person and must instead engage in remote learning, as long as they need the leave to actually care for the child during that time and only if no other suitable person is available to do so. For purposes of the FFCRA and its implementing regulations, the school is effectively “closed” to a child on days that he or she cannot attend in person. The employee may take paid leave under the FFCRA on each of the child’s remote-learning days.

However, if the child’s school is giving parents a choice between having the child attend in person or participate in a remote learning program for the fall the employee is not eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA because the child’s school is not “closed” due to COVID–19 related reasons; it is open for children to attend. FFCRA leave is not available to take care of a child whose school is open for in-person attendance. Click here for more information.

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 publishes T-TESS rubric for virtual instruction

TEA announced that, given the increase in virtual classrooms and requests from districts statewide, TEA has developed an aligned T-TESS rubric which isolates relevant, high-leverage practices in virtual instruction settings. Domains 1 through 3 of the original T-TESS rubric (Planning, Instruction, and Learning Environment domains, including all current T-TESS dimensions within these domains) have been modified to better fit virtual teaching assignments. Domain 4 descriptors on the Virtual T-TESS rubric are the exact same language as the original T-TESS rubric. According to TEA, for virtual teaching assignments persisting far enough into the school year to impact appraisal timelines, this rubric can be used as the basis for teacher ratings in lieu of the original T-TESS rubric. Click here to read more.
TRS Board get updates on issues including fund value and call center wait times

The TRS Board of Trustees is meeting virtually this week. While only a few action items were considered – primarily a member-friendly revision to how certain divorce orders are calculated – the Board discussed several issues. These included further conversations about the agency’s office buildings and the lease arrangements in downtown Austin, the current value and status of the fund, and concerns about customer service in the benefits counseling division. Click here to read more.
Early voting starts in special election for Texas Senate

Early voting began Monday and ends Sept. 25 in the Sept. 29 special election in Texas Senate District 30, which covers an area of North Texas from Dallas-Fort Worth up to the Oklahoma border and west toward Wichita Falls. Gov. Greg Abbott called the special election to fill a vacancy after current senator Pat Fallon was chosen as the Republican Party nominee to replace Congressman John Ratcliffe. Five Republicans and one Democrat are on the ballot for the special election. Find more information about them at TexasTeachersVote.org. The winner will finish Fallon's term, which ends in January 2023.
Help educate students about the dangers of vaping

What’s in a vape? Is vaping safer than smoking cigarettes? How can I help my teen quit vaping? Parents, educators and community leaders can find answers to these questions and learn more about the negative health effects of vaping from the Vapes Down campaign. This public awareness initiative of the Texas Department of State Health Services includes posters, flyers, videos and social media content that teachers can share to highlight the dangers of vaping. Click here to explore and download materials.
Get 9 free meals with HelloFresh subscription

TCTA members can get nine free meals over six boxes when signing up for a HelloFresh food delivery subscription. This offer is one of several fall promotions available now through our partnership with TicketsatWork. Click here to log in or create a TicketsatWork account using Company Code SWTCTA and explore all the Save@Home deals, as well as savings on travel, entertainment and more.

TicketsatWork is just one of many cost-saving programs available to TCTA members. Click here to log in and view them all.
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. Our applications are paperless this year, so ask your coworkers to enter your TCTA member number in the Take 2 box on the online form to ensure you receive credit.

Have you renewed your TCTA membership yet?
Don't go unprotected, renew by Sept. 30 to avoid a lapse in coverage!
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.
  • Sept. 15-Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month.
  • Oct. 5 is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election.
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