TEA softens stance on reopening schools in fall, more details expected Friday on remote options
TCTA has kept in close contact with the governor’s office and TEA in recent weeks, asking them to revise state policies to make sure that schools reopen for in-person instruction only when it is safe to do so. ( See our recent letter here.) It appears that the concerns of teachers and parents are being heard. Both the commissioner and Gov. Greg Abbott commented this week that the state may allow districts to offer remote-only learning beyond the initial three-week period allowed under the current guidance. More details are expected to be released during a conference call between the commissioner and superintendents on Friday.

Houston ISD announced plans this week to offer distance learning only for the first six weeks of instruction as the city grapples with high numbers of COVID-19 cases. Austin ISD and several other districts are planning for at least three weeks of distance learning before returning some students to campus after Labor Day. Click here to read more. In the Rio Grande Valley, Hidalgo County ordered schools to remain closed until Sept. 27. Click here to read more.

There are still many issues that need to be resolved. TCTA is working with state leaders on policies to allow teachers to resign from their contracts for good cause for COVID-related issues, to suspend STAAR testing for the 2020-21 school year, to ensure that teachers cannot be required to teach from campus during remote-only instruction if it can be done from home, and much more. We’ll continue to keep you updated on our progress.

We know many of you have concerns and questions about the coming school year, and we strongly encourage members to call us at 888-879-8282 so we can help you navigate situations as they arise. Members also can submit general inquiries through our Ask-a-Lawyer portal. Keep checking our Facebook page and Twitter feed for updates throughout the week, and find answers to common COVID-19 questions in our FAQs.
TCTA supporting concerned Rio Grande Valley teachers

TCTA’s Holly Eaton talked to KVEO-TV this week about how state mandates are endangering teachers and students. She reinforced TCTA’s push to allow districts to open for in-person instruction only when safe to do so, according to health experts. “Your decision locally about how you open school should be made based in conjunction with your local health authorities, your local health data and of course operating within whatever parameters, health parameters, that state and federal levels have put in place.” Click here to watch the video.
Killeen CTA urges school board to begin year remotely

Sherry Miller, TCTA State President-Elect and a music teacher in Killeen ISD, spoke to the school board Tuesday on behalf of Killeen CTA, urging the board to begin the school year virtually, noting, “If we start on Day 1 with more than 45,000 students and approximately 7,000 teachers and other employees without regard for whether the virus is under control, it is entirely possible, if not likely, that within two weeks, we will have a highly significant number of COVID-19 cases spreading throughout the district.” Click here to read more.
TEA releases more information on optional BOY assessments

TEA released additional details this week about its optional Beginning of Year assessments for use by school districts and parents at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. The assessments are designed to diagnose understanding of the TEKS from the previous school year and should be administered based on a child's grade level during 2019-20. BOY tests are only available for grades 4-12 and are built using released STAAR test questions that measure the TEKS and cover the same grades/subjects covered by STAAR. The registration window for districts opens July 20 and closes Sept. 18. The registration window for parents is Aug. 24 through Sept. 18. Tests will be administered July 27 to Sept. 25. Click here to read more.
TRS Board meeting this week
The TRS Board of Trustees is meeting this week. Among the items discussed:
  • The market value of the fund is slightly up for the year.
  • TRS ActiveCare open enrollment is underway, and employees should take a look at the new choices available this year.
  • TRS may open a satellite counseling office in El Paso.
  • Negotiations on TRS office space are in flux.
PO BOX 1489 AUSTIN, TX 78767 | 888-879-8282 | TCTA.ORG