The Texas Education Agency has issued new guidelines allowing school districts in several counties with high rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations, including the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo, to seek waivers for four additional weeks of virtual learning.
TSTA has called on the state to extend the option for exclusive online learning to every school district in the state until at least the winter break without a funding penalty. We believe it is a good alternative for helping to keep students and educators safe during the pandemic.
“The entire state is still a COVID trouble spot,” TSTA President Ovidia Molina said. “Confirmed cases of the virus are increasing among students and school employees who have returned to campuses throughout Texas. It also is clear that many districts are not sufficiently enforcing safety guidelines to protect students and school employees, based on a member survey TSTA is conducting.”
So far, more than 800 TSTA members have reported more than 4,700 violations of COVID safety standards or recommended employee policies in more than 150 school districts, risking the health of students, school employees and their families.
TSTA demands that state officials crack down on these safety problems, including widespread violations of social distancing and ventilation in classrooms, violations of the governor’s mask mandate and insufficient safety equipment and sanitation supplies. Many districts also have inadequate sick leave policies that discourage teachers who may be infected with the virus from staying home. Many districts also are refusing to give accommodations to high-risk teachers or school employees with high-risk family members.