COVID cases pop up as schools prepare for year
Some Texas schools that had staff and/or students return to campuses this week are already struggling with what to do when an employee or student tests positive for COVID-19. Tragically, one district lost its superintendent to the virus on Wednesday.

In Taft ISD (Corpus Christi), a high school football player tested positive on Monday and practices were suspended for two weeks. Marble Falls High School’s voluntary conditioning workouts were canceled after positive tests among the coaching staff. Gilmer High School band practices were temporarily canceled due to a COVID-positive student. In North Lamar ISD (Paris), three staff members have tested positive (school is not scheduled to start until Sept. 8). In Wylie ISD, an employee at a junior high school, back on campus for professional development and meetings, tested positive and around a dozen colleagues have been asked to self-quarantine. Flour Bluff ISD lost its superintendent. According to media reports, he had been battling the virus for several weeks.

Some Texas districts are currently rethinking their start dates in an effort to buy more time before on-campus learning begins. Several have moved to a post-Labor Day start date followed by a period of remote learning (state policy will allow up to 8 weeks at the beginning of the school year), and other districts like Austin ISD are in the process of considering a delayed start to the year. It's a contentious process, with some parents pushing for in-person instruction as soon as possible, and others preferring to begin with remote teaching.

We continue to push Gov. Abbott, Commissioner Morath and other officials to mandate that all schools follow guidelines developed by state and federal health experts that are based on data about the number of cases in a community so that schools only reopen when it is safe to do so. Members who have concerns about their health and safety or what options may be available based upon their circumstances should call the Legal Department at 888-879-8282 to speak with a staff attorney.
Check out TCTA's newest COVID-19 Legal Q&A video

TCTA staff attorneys Lonnie Hollingsworth, Michael Currie, Julie Leahy and Paige Williams spent an hour on Zoom on Tuesday answering questions from members about COVID-19 and schools. Click here to watch the discussion.

You can find more COVID-19 and legal videos in TCTA's YouTube channel.

TCTA continues to update its COVID-19 FAQs as information is released by TEA and other state and federal officials. This week, we added information about attendance and enrollment in the 2020-21 school year.
USDE finalizes plans for teacher stipends for CPE

The U.S. Department of Education recently announced the finalization of its plans to provide teachers with a stipend to self-select professional development. The final funding priority, which goes into effect on Aug. 28, incorporates suggestions made by TCTA, which believes that teachers should be entrusted with professional judgment and discretion in determining their own continuing learning needs. TCTA broke with other teacher groups in supporting the plan.

One of the suggestions made by TCTA that USDE included in the finalized funding priority was to require grant applicants to include a summary of the ways in which teachers were involved in the grant application and how teachers will be involved in key decisions about the proposed project.

TCTA also strongly supported USDE’s original proposal allowing teachers to replace no less than a majority of existing mandatory professional development with teacher-directed learning, though the final language says teachers can replace a ‘‘significant portion (no less than 20 percent) of existing mandatory professional development.” Click here to read more.
Save on most school supplies and clothes this weekend

The state's annual sales tax holiday for school supplies and clothing priced under $100 is this weekend (Aug. 7-9). In addition to savings in stores, qualifying items purchased online or over the phone also are tax free as long as the items are paid for and shipped or delivered during the exemption period. Click here for more information and a full list of tax-exempt items.
Renew your membership before classes begin 

The 2020-21 school year is sure to be unpredictable. Don't be unprotected. Renew your TCTA membership before classes start.
Encourage your colleagues to join TCTA and you could earn $25 for every two new Active-level members you recruit. Our forms are paperless this year, so ask your co-workers to enter your TCTA member number in the Take 2 box.
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