The Texas Education Agency has officially released its re-opening guidelines for schools across Texas for the 2020-2021 school year as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic.
Moving forward under these guidelines, school districts, private schools, and public charter schools will decide policies and procedures for their students and families. Go Public has compiled resources with the area public school districts’ most current COVID-19 information. Please confirm with your school or district’s plans (which may be more details, stringent, or specific than the TEA guidelines – which are designed to be a starting point for decision making at the local level) before making any decisions for your family. ACM always strives to share the most up to date info to aid you in making decisions that are best for your family.
Daily on-campus learning opportunities must be available for parents and students who wish to attend class on campus.
Per Texas Education Code (TEC), §25.092, students must attend 90% of the days a course is offered (with some exceptions) in order to be awarded credit for the course and/or to be promoted to the next grade. Student attendance may be earned through the delivery of virtual instruction
If a parent requests virtual instruction and the school does not offer it, the parent may enroll in another school that does offer it for transfer students.
Parents will have the option to choose remote learning for their child(ren) “initially, or at any point as the year progresses. Parents who choose remote instruction for their students may be asked to commit to remote instruction for a full grading period (e.g. 6 or 9 weeks), but will not have to make that commitment more than two weeks in advance, so they can make a decision based on the latest public health information.”
During a transition time of three weeks at the beginning of the school year, districts may choose to ‘ease in’ to on-campus instruction by requiring some remote learning. Families who don’t have access to the internet or devices needed for remote learning may request their students to be on campus during the transition.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Schools will be required to enforce self-screening via temperature and symptom checks by each teacher and staff member on campus.
Students will not be required to have temperature checks but they are not prohibited by the TEA guidelines.
In addition, the TEA guidelines state:
o Schools must immediately separate any student who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school until the student can be picked up by a parent or guardian.
o Schools should clean the areas used by the individual who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school (student, teacher, or staff) as soon as is feasible.
o Students who report feeling feverish should be given an immediate temperature check to determine if they are symptomatic for COVID-19.
Parents must ensure they do not send a child to school on campus if the child has COVID-19 symptoms or is lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and instead should opt to receive remote instruction until the conditions for re-entry are met.
If a COVID-19 case is suspected, the school will immediately separate the student until they can be picked up, do a temperature check, and clean and sanitize the areas that student has utilized.
If a COVID-19 case is lab-confirmed, the school must notify its local health department, close the areas frequented by the individual with the positive test until they can be cleaned, and schools must notify all teachers, staff, and families of all students in a school if a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participate on any on-campus activities.
GENERAL HEALTH + HYGIENE
Schools should provide an ample number of handwashing or hand sanitizing stations so that students, teachers, staff, and visitors can frequently clean their hands.
Schools should arrange for additional cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces that are touched in common throughout the day. This would include objects such as door handles, common tables/desks, shared supplies such as art supplies, and high touch devices such as shared laptops or tablets. Additionally, schools should arrange for the cleaning of commonly touched surfaces in classrooms between different class groups, if the same room will be used by multiple class groups.
The TEA suggests involving students in the daily maintenance cleaning of their personal spaces and belongings, in developmentally appropriate ways as well as direct and explicit instruction on good health and hygiene habits for students.
For the purposes of these guidelines, masks include non-medical grade disposable face masks, cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth), or full-face shields to protect eyes, nose, and mouth. Face shields may be superior to cloth face coverings in many circumstances, given improved ability to see mouth movements and improved air circulation.
Schools are required to comply with the governor’s executive order regarding the wearing of masks, which excludes children under the age of 10.
In addition to the executive order, school systems may require the use of masks or face shields for adults or students for whom it is developmentally appropriate.
CLASSROOM + SCHOOL LOGISTICS
Where feasible without disrupting the educational experience, encourage students to practice social distancing.
In classroom spaces that allow it, consider placing student desks a minimum of six feet apart when possible.
In classrooms where students are regularly within six feet of one another, schools should plan for more frequent hand washing and/or hand sanitizing.
When feasible and appropriate (for example, in physical education classes as weather permits), it is preferable for students to gather outside, rather than inside, because of likely reduced risk of virus spread outdoors.
Campuses must plan for entry, exit, and transition procedures that reduce large group gatherings (of students and/or adults) in close proximity. Consider staggering school start and end times, assigning students to entries to ensure even distribution of students entering/exiting at each door, providing guidance to students to enter one at a time and wait six feet apart outside the entrance, and, where appropriate, encouraging parents to remain outside during drop-off and pick-up.
The TEA recommends that schools should consider adding dividers between bathroom sinks, especially when students cannot be at least six feet apart while using the sinks.
At lunch, schools should consider practices that reduce the likelihood that students meet the close contact definition. This could include having students eat lunch at their desks, the use of seats that are spaced at least 6 feet apart, the use of dividers on cafeteria tables if they can serve the purpose of shielding the students from respiratory droplets. For meal service itself, schools should consider individually plated meals with disposable food service items for students who do not bring their own lunch.
Parents and other adults can visit schools, as permitted by local school system policies.
During these visits, parents and other visitors must follow virus prevention and mitigation requirements of the school.
Schools systems should restrict visits in schools to only those essential to school operations.
SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19
The TEA is using the following list of symptoms to evaluate the likelihood of an individual possibly having the virus:
- Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees
- Loss of taste or smell
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Headache o Chills
- Sore throat
- Shaking or exaggerated shivering
- Significant muscle pain or ache
You can read the full document here, including details for teachers and staff members and UIL/non-UIL sports and extracurricular activities. Please remember to consult with your school or district for the most up to date information, policies, and procedures specific to your family.