House panel hears testimony on education bills
The House Public Education Committee held its first hearing of the session Tuesday, taking testimony on six bills, including a controversial proposal that would allow high school students to substitute a career/technology education credit for a fine arts credit. The committee took no action.

The House Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee received an update on TRS, during which Executive Director Brian Guthrie said a small cost-of-living adjustment could be possible for retirees.

This session's HB 3 addresses the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As filed, the bill raised considerable concerns due to provisions that appeared to open the door for a form of vouchers, in which public education funds could go to a private entity. TCTA and many others objected to the language, intending to oppose the bill, but bill author Rep. Dustin Burrows listened to concerns and agreed to remove the controversial provision.

Throughout the session, you can find daily Updates from the Capitol and track key legislation related to education in our Bill Summaries.
Texas schools could get $12.4B from American Rescue Plan

Texas schools are eligible to receive about $12.4 billion under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed earlier this week by Congress and signed by President Biden today.

While it will take time to thoroughly review and understand all the implications of this massive stimulus bill, an early summary from the Congressional Research Service says 90% of funds sent to the state, or $11.2 billion, must be given to local districts by TEA based on their share of Title I-A grants in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Of the remaining funds, the state must use at least 5% to address learning loss, 1% for summer enrichment activities and 1% for after-school programs.

The legislation also will distribute stimulus checks up to $1,400 to millions of Americans and another $350 billion to cities and states. The bill also funds an additional $300 in unemployment payments per week until early September and extends the child income tax credit. Click here to read more.

TCTA wants your input on masks, vaccines
Now that Gov. Greg Abbott has lifted the state's mask mandate, media reports show that at least a dozen school districts have voted to lift their mask requirements, with several more school boards set to discuss the issue after spring break. Please take a few minutes to complete our survey using the button below and let us know what's going on in your district regarding masks. The survey also includes a couple of questions about COVID-19 vaccinations.
Vaccine eligibility expands to age 50 and older on Monday

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that the state is expanding eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines to include all adults age 50 and older as part of Phase 1C beginning Monday, March 15. The expansion could make it harder for those in Phases 1A and 1B, including school educators and child care workers, to make appointments as demand continues to outpace supply. Texas continues to receive doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. Health officials encourage people to take whichever vaccine is available. About 8.8% of Texans were fully vaccinated as of March 9, according to state data.

How do I schedule a vaccine appointment?
Teachers, school staff and child care workers who are interested in getting vaccinated should:
  • Visit VaccineFinder.org to find out where the vaccine is available in your community.
  • Visit the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program website to see which pharmacies are participating in your area. Most pharmacy partners are using online systems to schedule appointments. While vaccine supply remains limited, pharmacies participating in this federal program are giving educators priority access in March. There may be screening questions when booking an appointment to confirm eligibility, so be sure to select the educator option when scheduling online. 
  • Contact the Texas Department of State Health Services to find additional providers in your area.
Visit CDC’s Schools and Child Care Programs page for more information on school reopening and strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

CDC issues guidance for fully vaccinated people
On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance for people who are fully vaccinated. Two weeks after receiving their last dose, those fully vaccinated can:
  • Visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or distancing.
  • Visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household without masks or physical distancing, if the unvaccinated people are at low risk for severe disease.
  • Skip quarantine and testing if exposed to someone who has COVID-19 but are asymptomatic, but should monitor for symptoms for 14 days.
However, the guidelines say fully vaccinated people should continue to:
  • Wear a mask and keep good physical distance around the unvaccinated who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19, or if the unvaccinated person has a household member who is at higher risk.
  • Wear masks and physically distance when visiting unvaccinated people who are from multiple households.

We have all the latest state and federal guidance in our COVID-19 FAQs on 2020-21 Education Issues. This week we updated guidance on face masks, COVID-19 vaccines, air quality systems and school funding. 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.
SBEC sanctions teacher's certificate after she resigned without district's consent

A complaint was filed with the State Board of Educator Certification against a teacher, alleging that her teaching certificate was subject to sanctions because she had abandoned her contract with the school district. The teacher requested a hearing regarding the proposed sanctions.

At the hearing, the teacher testified that she spoke with her principal about her intent to resign and wrote a detailed letter explaining the items that needed to be completed and who would be responsible for finishing these items. After her departure, the principal was able to cover her duties with existing staff and testified that no students were harmed as a result of the teacher's resignation. The teacher also testified that she was not aware that the district had not accepted her resignation and said that she would not have resigned had she known that she could be sanctioned. Click here to read more.
2 convention CPE sessions now available online

Two CPE sessions from TCTA's 2021 Virtual Convention on Feb. 27 are now available for on-demand viewing. You can find them in the Online CPE tab in the member portal. Four more videos will be added next week.
  • Design & Plan for Hybrid Learning, 1.5 CPE credit hours
  • Hollywood vs. Science, 1.25 CPE credit hours
Click here to log in, watch the sessions and print/save CPE certificates. Any handouts or resources you'll need to follow along can be found under the video player for each session. Be sure to click the link under "Available Action" to record and log the session so you can reprint your certificate later.

In last week's list of elected district directors, we accidentally left out District 17's results. Sandi Hansen of Lubbock will take office June 1. Click here for all of the election results from TCTA's 2021 Virtual Convention.
TicketsatWork celebrates spring with sweepstakes

Celebrate spring with the Perks of Appreciation Sweepstakes through TicketsatWork. Enter by March 31 for a chance to win prizes, including a $500 gift card redeemable for Apple, Amazon and other major brands. Enter the sweepstakes, then log in up to once per day through March 31 to be automatically entered for additional chances to win. TicketsatWork will notify winners.

In addition, everyone gets $25 off a sitewide purchase of $250 or more with the promo code WEAPPRECIATEYOU, valid through March 31. Click here to view the March flyer for more information.

Click here log in or become a member using company code SWTCTA.
  • Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 14.
  • March 15 is the deadline to complete the national workplace bullying survey about conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • March 17 is St. Patrick's Day.
  • March 31 is Cesar Chavez Day.
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