Mark your calendar and plan to join us for TCTA's 2021 virtual convention Feb. 26-27

TCTA's 2021 Convention will take place virtually, with the business meeting on Friday, Feb. 26, and several breakout sessions on Saturday, Feb. 27, during which participants can earn continuing professional education hours. We'll share more details soon.

Ahead of the convention, there are some key deadlines approaching.
  • Nov. 28 is the deadline to notify headquarters if you want to run for statewide office. Positions on the ballot include President-elect, Governance Committee Chair, Legislation Committee Chair, Membership Committee Chair, Professional Rights & Responsibilities Committee Chair and Curriculum & Instruction Committee Chair (one-year term to fill a vacancy). Nominations may be made from the floor in February, but candidates' names will only appear on the ballot if they file by Nov. 28.
  • Nov. 28 is the deadline to notify headquarters of any proposed amendments to the TCTA Constitution and Bylaws. Amendments may be submitted from the floor in February, but will require a higher percentage to pass.
  • Dec. 28 is the deadline to notify headquarters if you want to be a delegate-at-large or a student delegate. This is a great way to learn more about TCTA if you're in a district without a local affiliate.
  • Local affiliate presidents will be sent information about their delegate allocations in mid-December.
Texas passes 1 million COVID cases as more schools close

COVID-19 cases in Texas continue to climb, with record numbers reported this week pushing the state past 1 million people infected. Though Texas ranks 25th in cases per 100,000 residents, more school districts temporarily closed campuses in favor of remote learning. El Paso extended its closure of nonessential businesses through Dec. 1 amid court challenges, and Gov. Greg Abbott sent more aid to El Paso and Lubbock to support medical personnel.

According to the state's COVID-19 dashboard for school districts, 24,439 Texas students and 14,852 staff members have tested positive through the week ending Nov. 8, with 4,277 students and 2,282 educators reporting new infections in the past week. Temporary school closures have increased statewide as a result, including in Sherman, Del Valle, Gatesville, Kermit and Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISDs. (Find links to the latest news in TCTA's education headlines.) More districts also joined TEA's rapid COVID-19 testing program, including Amarillo, Edgewood, Caldwell and Austin ISDs.

Alarmed by the accelerating spread of COVID-19, the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Pediatric Society sent a letter to state education officials urging districts to keep remote learning in place. Physicians have misgivings about policies in which “families who wish to continue virtually are notified their child will be disenrolled unless the child meets medical risk criteria to continue with virtual learning,” TMA and TPS wrote in response to the recent increase in small, rural districts that have ended remote learning options.

Recognizing the toll the pandemic is taking on teachers, Fort Bend ISD revised its calendar to add planning time between grading periods. Sherman ISD's full-time employees were given a $1,000 bonus in late October. Klein ISD is giving full-time staff a $500 stipend this month, and North East ISD teachers hired before Oct. 1 will get a $560 bonus in December.

Meanwhile, TEA is making it easier for school districts to require students who are failing classes to return to in-person learning. We've included the new guidance in our updated COVID-19 FAQs on 2020-21 Education Issues.
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.
Senate Ed holds hearing on pandemic's impact on schools

The Senate Education Committee is meeting in person at the Capitol today, with plexiglass dividers set up between members. The meeting includes invited testimony only, and all speakers are appearing virtually. This is the committee's last interim hearing before the session begins in January. Topics include digital learning, improving special education services, and best practices in providing education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sunset Advisory Commission, which had been meeting in person and taking both in-person and virtual testimony, cancelled its Thursday meeting on the TRS Sunset review due to unspecified COVID-related concerns. 
Use TCTA discounts to save on holiday shopping

TCTA's cost-saving programs can help members save on holiday gifts from Personal Creations, Shari's Berries, Barnes and Noble and Cherry Moon Farms. TicketsatWork.com also has lots of holiday deals on electronics, food and wine delivery services, beauty and skin care, apparel and more. There are even travel packages if you want to start planning summer trips and purchase season tickets for amusement parks in 2021.

TEA releases final 2019 district financial ratings

TEA has released its final 2019-20 Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas ratings for the state's school districts and charter schools. Ratings measure the quality of a district's management of its finances. The final ratings include the outcome of any appeals from the initial release in August. Click here to see district FIRST ratings. Click here to find charter school FIRST ratings.
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 brochures, pens or other materials to share on campus, please call the Membership Department at 888-879-8282 or email membership@tcta.org.
  • The State Board of Education meets Nov. 17-20 in Austin, but all public testimony will be virtual.
  • Thanksgiving is Nov. 26 (TCTA Headquarters will be closed Nov. 25-27).
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