TEA releases public health guidance for new school year

On Thursday, the Texas Education Agency released public health guidance for the 2021-22 school year, addressing on-campus instruction, non-UIL extracurricular sports and activities and other student activities. It also released guidance for school staff and referred to best practices from the CDC.

Among the guidance, TEA reiterates that districts cannot require students or staff to wear masks or be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, districts must report COVID-19 cases to their local health authority and require people who test positive to quarantine for 10 days. Districts can provide remote learning options for quarantined students that will be eligible for state funding.

USDE releases roadmap for return to school

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Education released its Return to School Roadmap to support students, educators, schools and communities as they return to in-person learning this fall. The Roadmap features three “landmark” priorities that schools, school districts and communities are encouraged to focus on to ensure all students are primed for success:
  1. prioritizing the health and safety of students, educators and staff;
  2. building school communities and supporting students’ social, emotional and mental health; and
  3. accelerating academic achievement.
Resources include a fact sheet, a guide for districts and a checklist for parents.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Thursday warned Americans not to let adult politics get in the way of schools reopening safely and remaining open without disruption, specifically expressing concern about states, like Texas, that are preventing schools from instating mask mandates. The tools are there, it's just are we following the mitigation strategies? Cardona said. You know what I'm worried about? The adult actions getting in the way of schools safely reopening. Let our educators educate. Let our school leaders lead.
Second special legislative session starts Saturday

Gov. Greg Abbott announced this week that a second special session of the Texas Legislature would begin at noon Saturday, Aug. 7. Democrats broke quorum and shut down the first special session, so many items left in limbo remain on the agenda. Education items on Abbott's agenda include returning issues:
  • Requiring schools to provide middle and high school students with education about dating violence, domestic violence, and child abuse (that allows parents to opt students out if they choose)
  • A 13th check for TRS retirees
  • Student participation in UIL athletic competitions relating to the student's sex at birth
  • Further restricting the teaching of critical race theory, though that term is not defined or expressly mentioned in previous legislation
And a new issue:
  • Ensuring that public schools during the COVID-19 pandemic: A) provide high-quality education with progress in learning for students; B) offer in-person learning for any student whose parents want it; C) do not mandate masks or vaccinations

The special session agenda also includes the spending of federal COVID relief funds, legislative quorum requirements and the controversial elections bill that prompted Democrats to flee in July. Many of them were still in Washington, D.C., this afternoon, with their return dates unknown. The Legislative Budget Board was set to reinstate legislative funding today, including staff pay, through the end of September, but the issue remains on the special session agenda. 
Should my district let me resign if I get a promotion?

Many teachers operate under the assumption that resignation in order to accept a promotion elsewhere is "good cause." This is incorrect. When a teacher requests to be released from their employment contract in order to accept a promotion at another district, many school districts grant this request and voluntarily agree to release the teacher. This is a widely acknowledged professional courtesy that districts extend to teachers in an effort to give them the opportunity to advance in their careers. However, although this is a common practice in many districts, it is not required by rule or law. Click here to read more. 
Join our legal session Aug. 21

Members are invited to join TCTA's staff attorneys at 10 a.m. Aug. 21 for the next Saturday Spotlight. They will review current legal issues and save time for your questions. Click here to register.
TEA seeking nominees for pre-K guidelines focus group

TEA is looking for early childhood experts to participate in a series of work sessions that will assist with the review and possible updates to the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.

Work sessions will occur throughout September, October and November. Meetings will be 100% virtual and will consist of a total of five two-hour work sessions, with an additional hour of pre-work for sessions 2-5. Meeting times will vary, but a schedule will be shared prior to commitment.

Click here to participate or nominate a pre-K expert today. Nominations are due Aug. 20, and those selected will be notified by the end of August.
No sales tax this weekend on most school supplies, clothes

Texans can save on most school supplies and clothing priced under $100 during the annual back-to-school tax-free weekend Aug. 6-8. Click here for more information.

H-E-B is giving Texas teachers 15% off school and office supplies and select household items through Aug. 27. Click here to get your in-store coupon.
TRS-Care Retiree Advisory Committee seeks nominees

TRS is accepting nominations for the TRS-Care Retiree Advisory Committee until Aug. 15.
The committee meets twice per year in Austin and is responsible for holding public meetings on group coverage, recommending minimum standard and plan features, and recommending changes to rules and legislation affecting TRS-Care. If you or someone you know may be a good fit, click here to learn more and apply.
Miss our summer training workshops? Watch now!

TCTA's 2021 Summer Training Workshops are now available for on-demand viewing in the Online CPE section of TCTA's member portal.

You'll get an update on this year's membership campaign and tips to help you encourage your colleagues to join TCTA, plus a legislative and legal update.
Renew your TCTA membership!

The new school year is almost here and it's time to renew your TCTA membership for 2021-22.
Invite your colleagues to join TCTA and earn $25 for every two eligible first-time active members you recruit with our Take 2/Make $25 program.
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