COVID-19 NEWS
TEA offers tools to help schools plan to reopen as commissioner addresses spring learning loss
Heading into the July 4th holiday weekend, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered Texans to wear face masks in public spaces if their county has 20 or more active cases of COVID-19, with some exceptions. The action is part of Abbott's latest moves to slow the spread of coronavirus in Texas.

A new statewide report released this week by TEA shows that more than 600,000 students (about 11%) didn't complete assignments or respond to teacher outreach during the pandemic this spring. Despite concerns over the learning loss from this "COVID-slide," Education Commissioner Mike Morath told members of the State Board of Education on Tuesday that he still expects STAAR testing to take place during the 2020-21 school year. Morath said the testing window will be expanded and the state will adjust the wa y the accountability system works. Legislators and others have begun to call on Morath to suspend STAAR testing for the upcoming school year. TCTA is urging state leaders to forgo STAAR testing and A-F grading of campuses and districts.

As schools make plans to reopen in the fall, TEA released a framework to help districts. It includes a reflection instrument that districts can use to consider how lessons from spring 2020 may translate to fall planning. TEA also suggests that districts conduct stakeholder surveys to collect feedback on both their experience with remote learning this spring, and their needs and concerns heading into the new school year.  Click here to read more.

TCTA maintains that schools should only open when it is safe for students and employees, and in a manner that continues to protect their health. We continue to urge state officials to provide data-driven benchmarks, developed by state and federal health care professionals, that a district or community must meet before schools are opened to in-person instruction.

Conversations about when to reopen schools are occurring across the country, and the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a hearing this week on the topic. Among those testifying was Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said schools should incorporate social distancing by modifying class schedules and including some virtual learning. Click here to read more.

We continue to update our FAQs about COVID-19 based on local, state and federal guidance. Check out what's new this week:
  • TEA released further guidance about its remote learning options for the 2020-21 school year, including attendance requirements.

Keep in mind that our FAQs are not legal advice. Each school district will handle situations differently, so we strongly encourage members who have specific questions or concerns to call us at 888-879-8282 so we can help. Members also can submit general inquiries through our Ask-a-Lawyer portal.
OTHER NEWS
TCTA helps limit mentoring meetings outside school day

In submitting comments on proposed TEA mentoring rules, TCTA objected to a proposal providing for mentoring meetings to occur outside of the regularly contracted school day. TCTA pointed out that the proposal conflicted with statutory provisions requiring that a school district must designate a specific time during the regularly contracted school day for meetings between mentor teachers and classroom teachers assigned to a mentor. TEA agreed and struck the language from the final rules.

TCTA also successfully advocated that the proposed rules be changed to allow more teachers to be mentored. TEA agreed, changing the rule language so that any teacher with less than two years of experience in the subject or grade level assigned would be eligible for the the mentoring program funded by House Bill 3. Click here to read more.
Watch our video on summer resignations

Dohn Larson, TCTA's director of legal services, begins a six-part series on resignations with a look at the summer resignation deadline. Watch it now , and look for the next parts in the series on Friday, July 3.

With the summer resignation deadline quickly approaching for many educators, TCTA sent a letter to Commissioner Morath this week urging him to issue guidance related to the circumstances under which an educator has good cause to abandon their contract. We asked that teachers be allowed to resign from their contracts if appropriate to avoid exposure to COVID -19.

Are there other topics you'd like us to address in future videos? Email suggestions to communications@tcta.org .
Early voting ends July 10 in the July 14 primary runoffs
 
Early voting began June 29 and ends July 10 in the state's July 14 primary runoff elections. Several races, including a U.S. Senate seat on the Democratic ballot, were undecided after voting in March. Polls will be closed July 3-4 for Independence Day, but hours resume July 5. Election workers are encouraging voters to wear masks and are taking other precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Texans weigh in on proposed revisions to sex ed curriculum

The State Board of Education heard testimony from many Texans this week as it considers revisions to the state's sexual education curriculum for the first time since 1997. The 15-member board is considering requiring that middle schoolers learn about contraceptives, sexually transmitted infections and the importance of consent.
Many of those who testified urged the board to also require students to learn about sexual orientation and gender identity. The board is expected to finalize revisions to the curriculum in November. Click here to read more.
Supreme Court ruling has impact on school choice
 
Education groups and activists on all sides of the debate over private school choice agree that a Tuesday ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court will be tremendously consequential. But it may take some time for the ripple effects to spread. In a 5-4 decision, the court held that a Montana law prohibiting families from using state tax-credit scholarships at religious schools was an unconstitutional violation of religious freedom. Click here to read Education Week 's rundown on what the ruling means and what comes next.
CALENDAR
CONTENT PUBLISHED JULY 2, 2020 | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
TEXAS CLASSROOM TEACHERS ASSOCIATION
PO BOX 1489 AUSTIN, TX 78767 | 888-879-8282 | TCTA.ORG