87TH LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Abbott's State of the State address on Monday
In a Senate session on Tuesday, Sen. Jose Menendez thanked Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for his recent letter urging improvements to the state's COVID-19 vaccination distribution system. Patrick said age 65+ educators should be a priority subset.

Lawmakers were informed this week that complete census data will not be available until this summer, meaning a special session will be necessary for redistricting.

The House and Senate are both in recess until Feb. 9. We expect House committee assignments in the next two weeks so that hearings can begin.

Gov. Greg Abbott will give his State of the State Address at 7 p.m. Monday. Abbott will provide an update on the state's response to COVID-19 and outline his legislative priorities for the 87th session. The address will be broadcast on Nexstar TV stations/websites across the state. (Click here to find your station.)

Throughout the session, you can find daily Updates from the Capitol and track key legislation related to education in our Bill Summaries.
FEATURED NEWS
CDC review of fall data finds little spread of COVID-19 in schools following protocols

Data from K-12 schools that reopened for in-person instruction in the fall show little evidence that schools contributed meaningfully to the spread of COVID-19 when recommended health and safety protocols, such as wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, were in place, according to three CDC scientists. Their findings were published Tuesday in the journal of the American Medical Association.

The CDC report says "the type of rapid spread that was frequently observed in congregate living facilities or high-density worksites has not been reported in education settings in schools." But it also cautions that person-to-person spread is likely to occur with indoor athletics and other group activities, even if masks are worn. To continue to keep COVID-19 out of classrooms, the CDC says communities should do all they can to limit the spread of COVID-19 elsewhere, including by restricting indoor dining and other public gatherings.

We want your input on COVID-19 protections in schools. Is your district following the CDC's recommended protocols? Do you feel safe in your classroom?
COVID-19 cases declining, but stay vigilant

According to the state dashboard, 4,851 Texas students and 1,912 educators tested positive for COVID-19 for the week ending Jan. 17. (The data is updated on Friday afternoons.) Cases have been declining across most of Texas in the past week, but health officials urged people to stay vigilant as the state surpassed 2 million cases and hospitals remain at or near capacity.

We have all the latest state and federal guidance in our COVID-19 FAQs on 2020-21 Education Issues. 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 to speak with a staff attorney.
Texas to start testing for lead in drinking water at schools

Amid new federal requirements, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will begin testing for lead and copper in drinking water at elementary schools and child care facilities. The new mandate emerged from the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The state has until January 2024 to meet all requirements, and TCEQ officials are still establishing methods and seeking funds. Click here to read more.
DECISIONS, DECISIONS
Court denies unemployment to teacher fired for misconduct
 
A teacher filed for unemployment benefits after his probationary contract with his school district was terminated at the end of its term. His application for benefits was denied by the Texas Workforce Commission and he appealed, first to the district court and then to the court of appeals. The Texas Workforce Commission argued that the teacher was not entitled to unemployment benefits because he had been fired due to misconduct, including making false accusations and assaulting his principal. Click here to read more.
OTHER NEWS
Course reviews strategies to help students with significant cognitive disabilities learn
 
The Region 13 Education Service Center is offering a free, self-paced online course to help educators better meet the needs of students with significant cognitive disabilities. "Building a Foundation for Supporting Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities" covers the five quality indicators of effective practices for working with these students and aligns with the rubric of effective practices. Complete the course and earn 18 CPE credit hours. Click here to register.
Free tools help teachers provide specialized support to students

The Inclusion in Texas Network has been working to develop accessibility and specialization tools that will help teachers more easily provide supports to their students. Each accommodation has a drop down menu that provides links to free tools that can help provide the accommodation or specialization. Initial topics include minimizing distractions, text to speech, vocabulary, and reading and math content supports. Additional resources will be added. Click here to explore the tools.
TCTA enrollment ends Feb. 1

If you have new colleagues on campus, reach out and invite them to join TCTA before enrollment ends on Feb. 1. Second-semester hires can join TCTA and receive full membership benefits for half the cost. (Membership will expire Aug. 31, 2021.) Click here for the application and more information.
CALENDAR
  • Feb. 14 is Valentine's Day.
  • Feb. 15 is Presidents Day.
CONTENT PUBLISHED JANUARY 28, 2021 | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
TEXAS CLASSROOM TEACHERS ASSOCIATION
PO BOX 1489 AUSTIN, TX 78767 | 888-879-8282 | TCTA.ORG