Blog

Daily Updates from TEA Regarding COVID-19

March 18, 2020

Key Takeaways & TPCSA Notes from 3/24

  • As the pace of new information slows, TPCSA will no longer send daily updates; will send updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If there is a major announcement, we will send no matter what day of the week it is made.
  • Tomorrow’s call with TEA will focus on Continuity of Instruction—invite your CAO or others handling instructional design and implementation to join
  • Several counties and cities are now under “Shelter in Place” orders, which further limit movement from home
  • TPCSA is still working with TDA on clarity around when state requirements on food service will be waived

Shelter in Place Guidance

  • Shelter in Place FAQ uploaded on website
  • All current SIP orders address what schools can and can’t do
  • COVID-19 Superintendent response checklist have been uploaded to website and will be updated periodically so continue to check the checklist

For superintendents

Individual Graduate Committees

  • Guidance on individual graduation committees has been uploaded under “Assessment” section
  • Also use the assessment guidance document’s chart to help navigate different scenarios

Teacher Appraisals

  • Instructions on submitting educator appraisal waiver have been uploaded under Staff and Educator Issues
  • Fill this out soon to adjust appraisal/review process
  • Applies to all Chapter 21 statutes

School Finance

  • When should one submit continuity of instruction attestation form?
  • No later than July 1 but also refer to missed school days waiver as well on website
  • Does require board approval
  • Submit only one waiver “after dust settles”
  • Ask parents to keep log of student’ work to help with documentation

Instructional Continuity Planning

  • Included a TEA Instructional Continuity Planning tool on website
  • Helps to help you analyze what team has already done and what is left to do and find best practices
  • curriculum@tea.texas.gov to send questions/resources schools think are best practices or what schools have identified that is working

Key Takeaways from TEA Call & Notes from TPCSA 3/23

  • No statewide shelter in place order as of now. Individual cities are announcing shelter in place orders, with more expected. When talking to local officials (Mayors & County Judges) on shelter in place recommendations make sure essential staff includes school personnel to help aid in remote instruction.
  • Join TPCSA webinar Wednesday at 1pm to talk about serving special populations through this crisis. Zoom link here: https://zoom.us/j/546229182.
  • TPCSA worked with TEA today to get clarity on the expansion amendment deadline. It will be extended until May 1. Guidance coming later this week.

Healthcare System Coordination

  • If you’re planning to offer childcare for children of first-responders and medical personal, here’s the guidance.
  • Talk to your local health care providers (County Health Department, hospitals, clinics in your neighborhood) to see if there is a need for assistance.
  • TPCSA note: We recommend that you connect with the hospital and County Health Department to begin a conversation around what would need to be in place to use your gym/cafeteria as a make-shift medical facility if needed.

Instructional Continuity 

  • TEA has uploaded more resources to help guide instructional continuity 
  • TEA has also posted a logistical guideline for those concerned about potentially passing the virus through learning packet preparation for students who do not have access to internet 

Special Populations & SPED

  • Residential school guidance has been updated
  • English learners: TELPAS/LPAC guidance has been uploaded
  • TELAS window extended through May 29, 2020
  • USDE OSERS has been uploaded
  • More recommendations and practices will be coming later this week and next week

Assessments

Food Service

  • TPCSA note: TDA is submitting a waiver to USDA on requirements barring serving two meals at once and requiring kids be in the car for pick up. Once waiver is approved, restrictions will be lifted.

Staff/Educator Issues

Cyber Security 

Transfer Students

  • Start serving them immediately
  • There should be no operational barriers to serve them; use your normal internal process 

Misc.

  • Construction projects are still happening (not impacted by Governor’s order); but they may be impacted by local mayors/county judge shelter in place orders

Key Takeaways from Call with TEA on 3/20

  • Reminder: No Commissioner calls on Sat. or Sun. from here on out. Next call will be Monday, March 23rd at 3:00 pm.
  • All school closure order in Texas begins tonight, students may not be in the school building
  • Should staff continue to work? Yes. Should staff be in the school building? That is up to the district to decide. This is not prohibited, but no more than 10 people should be congregating in one place. Mitigate the public health risk. There is no specific guidance on how to space employees out through the building.
  • Call will be made on lifting closure order when it is safe to do so.
  • Governor is not considering more stringent closure requirements at this time.  

New resources on the website as of 3/20

Specific to RTCs

  • Governor’s closure order has a unique impact on RTCs. TEA does not know for sure how this will impact RTCs. TEA will have this posted by 3:00 on Sunday at the latest. It will be posted as a guidance document. Specific RTC questions after 3:00 on Sunday should be directed to disasterinfo@tea.tx.gov

Food Service Updates

  • TEA launched the Meal Finder website for families: https://txschools.gov/ Parents and schools can type in the family’s address and there are sites that show up on a map where they can pick up meals.
  • TEA has processed thousands of meal site applications, and there are many more applications pending, so the meal finder will be updated within the next week.
  • TEA recommends spreading the news about this meal finder website on social media; TEA will be doing a press release on this as well. TEA has a social media template on their main COVID-19 website.
  • TDA also has an FAQ document which is located at http://www.squaremeals.org/News/tabid/945/Article/2951/Coronavirus-Updates-for-Contracting-Entities.aspx
  • TDA is asking USDA to lift restrictions on serving breakfast and lunch at the same time, having students in the car, and supper service. All this is in the hands of the USDA right now. TPCSA is working with our external lobby team to push our US Senators and Governor to ask USDA to lift restrictions.

School Finance Questions

  • Tracking attendance: TEA does not have procedures in place if parents move kids from one district to another. TEA said to “just serve kids” and consider them enrolled if they show up at your school. TEA will release more guidance on this next week.
  • USDE grant guidance: Feds will reimburse for some COVID-19 costs (ancillary funds); Commissioner recommends using a local funding code to attribute purchases/costs directly with COVID-19. Document, document, document.
  • More answers about finances will come soon.
  • TSIA costs: these were front-loaded in school finances, so schools may have received more funding than they will use because they have kids that will not take the TSIA.

Instructional Continuity

  • TEA has a new planning page with resources that schools can use: https://tea.texas.gov/texas-schools/safe-and-healthy-schools/instructional-continuity-planning
  • One important part of this is advice on how to get kids internet access. TEA has a list of internet providers that are providing COVID-19 internet access for reduced or no cost. Spectrum is offering free internet, but families have to have it wired into their homes already. https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/Guidance%20to%20Districts%20on%20Providing%20Internet%20to%20Students.pdf
  • Many schools are starting to buy wireless devices for families and place them out in the community. Make sure to document costs like these and also use existing funding. The federal government may reimburse some of these costs, but TEA does not know for sure yet how much they will cover.
  • TEA is collecting exemplar resources for schools. Schools should still be using TEKS to guide their instruction for students.
  • High priorities in supporting continuous learning: Optimizing learning resources; Setting clear expectations for staff, parents and students
  • If districts have requests for resources, contact TEA to add them to the instructional continuity resources. They will continue to release resources in the next week.

New Special Ed and Special Populations Resources

Other Information

  • Cybersecurity Webinar through TEA on March 23rd. TEA is concerned that vital systems might be targeted by bad actors during this crisis.
  • TEA will continue updating FAQs.
  • Grading Continuity Questions – TEA’s Instructional Continuity Task Force is dealing with this questions and others
  • TEA will give guidance next week on TELPAS designations for schools that have not completed testing

Key Takeaways from March 19 Call with TEA

  • Governor Abbot announced all school closures through April 3, 2020
  • Closer to then, officials will re-evaluate if closures need to be extended
  • Closure does not mean to stop providing educational instruction
  • Continue to follow CDC recommendations on no more than 10 people in one place
  • UIL has canceled all activities until May 4, 2020
  • No more TEA calls on Saturday and Sunday—will stick to weekday only daily 3pm calls

Charter Specific Information

  • Charter Amendments & Finance FAQ
  • Charter schools now have same flexibilities in reference to board meetings and open meetings act
  • Limit of closure longer than 21 days is waived
  • Every six week attendance reports & funding: this situation will not affect FSP payments – cash flow will continue as normal
  • If you need more clarity send email to disasterinfo@tea.texas.gov and CC Timothy Mattison, tmattison@txcharterschools.org.
  • TPCSA NOTE: We surfaced the six-week attendance report issue with TEA staff after charter leaders flagged that for us. Please continue to flag charter specific issues that TEA may not be thinking about so we can push for answers.

Food Service

  • TEA has added a Child Nutrition section to their website to answer all food service questions
  • TDA hosted a webinar on March 18; TDA Webinar FAQ
  • President Trump signed HR 621 around midnight, which authorizes USDA to relax all federal rules. Once they do, TDA will also be able to relax rules. More information will be distributed as guidance comes down the pipeline
  • TEA is using data on food pick up locations from schools to publish a map where parents can enter their address and find the nearest pick up location
  • TAA on TUNPSA: Texas Mealfinder
  • TXUNPS Website for Application
  • TPCSA NOTE: We are working with our external lobby team to ask the Governor and his team to push on the Secretary of the USDA to waive rules quickly so you can plan to serve supper starting next week as well (if you normally serve it). We are here to help with regulatory barriers and obstacles to getting services in place for your students. Please let us know what your roadblocks are so we can try to help.   

Finance

  • School Finance FAQ from March 19 2020
  • A TAA will be coming out within the next 24 hours. Make sure you are keeping documentation that continuing instruction is happening. Examples include: retain representative of students work; grading students’ work, etc. 
  • ADA calculations: Still working through the best way to handle this. But, please do not worry; you will not lose money. 
  • Instructional Continuity Attestation Waiver. You may be audited in the future, but as long as school have some documentation that will suffice.
  • More on instructional continuity on tomorrow call

Cyber Security

  • Criminals are using this time to expand their attacks on school systems
  • There will be a webinar on Monday, March 23, 2020 at 1pm.

MISC

  • A staff and educator guidance has been posted to the website
  • Issues surrounding teacher evaluations and contracts are currently being discussed and working on answers to questions submitted
  • More information on ESL students will be coming in the days ahead
  • SAT/ACT TSIA AP/IB Program FAQ

Key Takeaways from 3/18 TEA Call & Key Updates from TPCSA

  • New and updated resources posted on TEA's COVID-19 Website:
  • Updated roster of school closures
  • Links to TASB board resolutions
  • Board transparency guidance
  • Guidance on virtual meetings
  • New Special Education FAQ document on TEA’s website since yesterday

Food service

  • TEA will put up a mapping website by Friday for parents to find their food pick-up sites
  • To get reimbursed for lunches, districts need to submit an application to TDA for approval
  • TDA is working to get federal school lunch program rules waived through the USDA
  • Questions about school lunches may be directed to disasterinfo@tea.texas.gov

Funding & attendance

TEA will release full guidance on attendance tomorrow

Districts have asked TEA about changes to the funding formulas during extended closure. The Commissioner said districts should not worry about this. More guidance to come next week.

Instructional Resource Help

The Commissioner assembled a Task Force to work on what are the best practices and what are the resources out there. They will meet on Saturday for the first time.

The Commissioner encouraged districts to send any resources they are using that TEA can discuss in their Task Force. Send to disasterinfo@tea.texas.gov.

Testing & Accountability

  • Reminder: Grades 3 – 8 tests have been cancelled, and EOCs are cancelled
  • Districts should use their discretion on promoting students to the next grade level—but they should not automatically pass students on to the next grade. Use the standards that are best for kids.
  • For graduating seniors that have not passed their EOCs, the IGC process can be used if students have not passed their EOC but they have obtained credit for the class.
  • With the elimination of STAAR, the STAAR Alternate also goes away this year.
  • For TELPAS, many districts have already completed testing. The TELPAS window is still open and will be extended. Districts should still try to administer it but it is optional. TEA will seek a waiver from the USDE for TELPAS requirement in determining growth of ELLs.
  • Interim assessments are still open and are optional
  • How will we measure academic progress without STAAR? TEA is brainstorming how to assist districts without non-STAAR assessment options. Will be released in two weeks.
  • Targeted improvement plan updates will be coming in the next few weeks.

Key Takeaways from 3/17 TEA Call & Key Updates from TPCSA

  • Current thinking is that schools will need to be closed for 8 weeks.
  • Tomorrow’s call with TEA will be held at 1pm (log in info in first email that starts this thread).
  • TDA hosting call tomorrow at 3pm. Details below in food service section.
  • Governor has relaxed Open Meetings Act requirements to allow for virtual meetings. Info below and attached.
  • TPCSA has updated our website with a page where we are collecting resources and sharing these notes daily: https://txcharterschools.org/covid19/?_thumbnail_id=19868.
  • Shulman Lopez Hoffer Adelstein is making the resources they are developing for their clients available to all TPCSA member schools. You can find those resources, including new guidance on paying hourly employees, scheduling emergency board meetings, and an array of other helpful documents at the TPCSA Member Portal: https://quality.txcharterschools.org/. If you need help logging in, please contact Janie Munoz, jmunoz@txcharterschools.org or 512-717-6653.
  • TPCSA is following the Austin ISD schedule for our planned office closure, as a result we will be working remotely through 4/3. We are all working and available as normal.

Special Education

  • CDC is now recommending no gatherings/groupings of more than 10 people. For medically fragile students, most school districts/charters can accommodate the 10 person rule in buildings where medically fragile students would be the only children in the building. Given that the federal government is not relaxing their procedures we need to ensure these students are receiving their required education and services. If you have not yet developed a plan for serving medically fragile students on campuses, please begin thinking through how you would do this with minimal, but appropriate staffing.
  • Does a temporary home setting present a “change of setting” that will trigger an ARD meeting? TEA is currently through this and will be sending out a TAA once they have the answers.

Board Meetings

  • The Governor announced suspension of certain portions of a waiver from in-person requirements in the State Open Meetings Act.
  • Board meetings will now be able to be done through Skype, Zoom, or tele-conference
  • However, members of the public must still be able to call/video-in to ask questions when appropriate

Food Service

  • Schools can log onto squaremeals.org for more information about waiver in place and apply for reimbursement through TDA.
  • Some schools have focused on providing opportunities to pick up breakfast and lunch at the same time
  • Questions are coming up about whether or not a student needs to be in the car/present when a family picks up meals. TEA is working on an answer.  
  • TDA will be hosting a webinar for school leaders TOMORROW March 18th at 3pm. Log onto squaremeals.org/coronavirus to sign up and watch.
  • TEA is posting information about where families can pick up meals. If you want to be included, email your meal distribution details to disasterinfo@tea.texas.gov.

Instructional Continuity

  • No later than Thursday, TEA will upload to their website a listing of what some districts are doing both via technology and for those who don't have access to technology.
  • Some school districts are setting up mobile hotspots on school buses and strategically placing school buses in the community so students can access the hotspots. (Genius idea!)

Transportation

  • TEA is still working through this. Expect more information about the transportation allotment in the coming week.

Employee Pay

  • TEA will be post helpful resources on this matter latter this week or early as tomorrow.
  • Additional resources available in TPCSA member portal.

TEA Providing Sample Closure & Remaining Open Language

            1. Schools announcing closures

            2. School closures being extended

            3. School announcements remaining open

An Irish blessing to you on this St. Patrick’s Day:

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go.

Key Takeaways from 3/16 call

  • There will be no mandatory administration of any STAAR test for any subject or grade this year.
  • Expect every district to have a “not rated” accountability rating for this year. Confirmation coming on this at a later date.

Testing

  • Some STAAR tests have already been shipped and you must keep security protocols in place when tests are received
  • No required testing this year for anyone
  • For those that want to administer tests for diagnostic or tracking purposes, guidance will come for optional administration
  • What does this mean for graduation and grade-level promotion requirements?
    • Districts will decide: Grade-level promotion, EOC passage, and graduation status
    • Use existing IGC process and make graduation decisions based on your standards
    • Students won’t be demonstrating that they have EOC mastery, and this could have a ripple effect for some students for the next 4 years
  • ELL/LEP—TEA will have to ask for a waiver from feds on making final these determinations, but don’t know yet what will happen here. If feds say it is ok, the expect the state to make TELPAS optional for making determinations. There will be more flexibility is security around TELPAS so teachers can review anything students have completed so far.

What about non-state tests?

  • AP exams—not sure what College Board is planning; TEA is reaching out
  • Also not sure what will happen with industry certification tests that students would normally take; will share as they learn more

Teacher & Other Employee pay issues

  • All funding will flow as normal. Your budget will not be affected in any way, so TEA expects that staff will be paid as normal.
  • TASB has guidance on how to handle auxiliary or hourly employees. Districts have authority to make their own decisions about what to do here.

Flagging Requests from TPCSA

  • If you decide to continue providing meals to students while school is closed, can you please send a note to Tamoria Jones to let her know what you are doing? We want to gather ideas to share with others in the charter community. Tamoria’s email is: tjones@txcharterschools.org.
  • If you send a question to the TEA (disasterinfo@tea.texas.gov), please cc Timothy Mattison, tmattison@txcharterschools.org, so that we can begin to pull together the list of questions charters have. If we already have an answer to your question, we may be able to get back to you more quickly than TEA.

Key takeaways from 3/15 call:

If you have not yet closed:  

  • If you are located in a city, connect with your Mayor right away; likewise, if you are located in an unincorporated area of a county, connect with your County Judge. Mayors and County Judges have the legal authority to order schools to shut down, so they should understand your perspective and decision-making process. You also need to connect with County Health Department; you can find your contact here: https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/regions/2019-nCoV-Local-Health-Entities/.

If you’re already closed:

  • If there are cases in your county, be prepared for “very long-term closures.” Before you can reopen, the exponential rate of growth in cases will have to stop, the rate of new cases will have to precipitously drop, and then there will be a waiting period after both of those criteria are true. In some locations, that could mean 8 weeks is optimistic—it may need to be longer. Morath feels confident at this point that 2-3-week closures will not be long enough.
  • TEA recommends that you announce now that you’re extending your closure to at least three weeks and explain what the conditions have to be in order to reopen.
  • Communications resources to explain the situation to parents are forthcoming from TEA.

Make some operational adjustments for staying open or reopening:

  • Put exposure risk self-reporting protocol in place right away if you haven’t already for staff and families.
  • Encourage parents who can keep kids home to do it.
  • Cancel any extracurriculars with “social mixing” and bigger crowds—this includes parents. So, things like prom, graduation, school plays, etc., should all be canceled or significantly restructured.

Finance:

  • If you’re open, in PEIMS code kids who are absent “absent but present for the purposes of school finance”
  • If you’re closed, more guidance coming for reporting; they are working on a Coronavirus code

Testing:

  • TEA is trying to make a decision on this asap, but their thinking has evolved even since yesterday. If there are long term closures, then testing is a moot point because no one will be in school. They hope to have an answer out early in the week.  

Instructional support at home

  • Take the time you need to plan and train staff—you’re not going to be bound to only using your banked minutes for training.
  • If you want to be on TEA task force that is tasked with gathering resources and supports, send your contact information along with a note that you want to be on the Instructional Support Task Force to disasterinfo@tea.texas.gov.

Special ed

  • REVISION SINCE YESTERDAY: Feds WILL NOT give flexibility on special ed.
  • If instructional support is being offered to anyone, then special needs kids MUST be given access to same opportunities.
  • TEA is working as fast as possible to figure out what this means logistically and operationally and sort out how to help you follow the letter and spirit of the law.

Food service

Misc.

Requests from TPCSA

  • If you decide to continue providing meals to students while school is closed, can you please send a note to Tamoria Jones to let her know what you are doing? We want to gather ideas to share with others in the charter community. Tamoria’s email is: tjones@txcharterschools.org.
  • If you send a question to the TEA (disasterinfo@tea.texas.gov), please cc Timothy Mattison, tmattison@txcharterschools.org, so that we can begin to pull together the list of questions charters have. If we already have an answer to your question, we may be able to get back to you more quickly than TEA.

Hang in there!

Key Takeaways from 3/14 call:

Key Resources

Key Takeaways

  • All TEA staff will be teleworking effective immediately.
  • Cases in 14 counties, school closures in more than 100.
  • If you have ordered a closure, send name of district, and dates you’re closing, including when your spring break dates to disasterinfo@tea.texas.gov.
  • County health departments in every county should now have the ability to test people without insurance for free. Please do not send all staff and families to the county health department. They cannot test everyone and there’s no need to do that. But if someone is sick with relevant symptoms and does not have private insurance, recommend they go to the County right away for testing.
  • Reiterating that if there is no confirmed case in your county and no one on your staff or school community has had possible exposure, then there’s no reason to close right now. But, if there is a case in your county and anyone in your school community has had the potential of exposure, you should consider closure now.
  • TEA will send guidance in the next day or so with advice on communicating closure to staff and families.
  • All testing adjustments that will be made at this time will be announced in one final document by Thursday. They are for sure extending the testing window and eliminating the early testing dates for the SSI.
  • Accountability will be considered after testing results are back and TEA will use its Harvey adjustments as a potential model. They asked that we stay focused on public health and worry about accountability later.
  • USDA has confirmed you’ll be reimbursed for all school meal service even if schools are closed. The reimbursements will cover whatever arrangements you make with food service vendors (home delivery, drop off points, etc.) More to come from USDA on this later in the week.
  • Regarding special needs students: in the event of closure, federal and state governments will offer lots of flexibility from regulations as long as you are committed to offering some kind of instructional support at home. Everyone understands we’re going to have to figure this out as we go. For students on the extreme end of medically fragile, if the school is closed to everyone else, having them come in may be safer for them than other places where they may be exposed to people they don’t normally know.

What can you do short of closure?

  • Communicate with parents that it is OK to keep kids home. For parents who are nervous and have the ability to keep kids home, encourage them to do that.
  • People who are at higher risk should stay home—students and staff being treated for relevant underlying medical conditions and staff over 65.
  • See additional recommendations below in section titled “If you decide to remain open, take these actionable steps to limit risk.”

What is the threshold for re-opening?

  • For schools in counties with active cases, guidance on when to consider reopening will come in the coming weeks.
  • If there are no current cases in your county but you closed out of an abundance of caution, and at the end of this coming week there is still no confirmed case in your county, you might consider reopening.

Misc. Notes:

  • Superintendent hotline is overwhelmed, best place to send questions is the disasterinfo@tea.texas.gov Email address. They’re getting hundreds of questions a day and are working around the clock to answer them. Please be patient as they source reliable information for you.  
  • If you are not receiving direct emails daily from TEA, then it’s because they do not have your email on their Superintendent listserv. To be added email disasterinfo@tea.texas.gov.
  • County Health Departments are legally allowed to tell you if they talk to/test/confirm a diagnosis for anyone connected to your school community.  
  • Reminder that TEA is issuing blanket waiver for 90/75% attendance requirement; you’ll be able to count kids who stay home in daily attendance as long as you provide instructional support at home.
  • TEA is continuing to work on its continuity of instructional support document. TPCSA will also continue to supplement with resources.
  • TEA will share information soon on how to collaborate with the Texas Virtual Schools Network.
  • Additional high-tech and low-tech options coming. TEA is working with districts to gather best practices for how some are getting hot spots out to kids without internet at home.
  • Paying employees in the event of closure is up to your districts governing documents/protocols. Some are paying staff no matter what.
  • Reminder to document ALL costs you incur related to planning for and responding to the virus in order to qualify for federal reimbursement at a later date.

This morning my colleague Natalie Kaharick sent a collection of resources to help begin planning for or implementing distance learning. Expect an email from us with more details about food service on Monday. If you’re already working on a plan or have ideas that could benefit everyone to consider, please let me know.

Please continue to send any questions, needs, or resources you’re developing our way so we can be helpful.  

Key Takeaways from 3/13 call:

Colleagues,

We wanted to send the latest information we have received from TEA regarding Coronavirus and provide a few other updates as well. TEA released a TAA last night with some initial guidance. That is attached here. At 3pm today, Commissioner Morath hosted a conference call to share some additional information. Notes from the call are below.

Quick Resources

Please click this URL to join: https://zoom.us/s/748027666; Or join by phone: Dial 669-900-6833 | Webinar ID: 748 027 666

Key Take Aways from the Call

  • If you have to close there will be no impact to funding provided you are offering some instructional support (online learning opportunities, homework packets, workbooks, etc.) to students while they are home. What does instructional support look like: TEA developing SWAT team that will help source resources. Reach out to join that SWAT team if you have expertise in remote learning options.
  • If you close, prepare for long-term closure, not just a week or two.
  • State is finalizing a waiver request to USDA so that you can still provide meals while students are not in a group setting. More to come next week on food service.
  • If you incur any costs associated with preparing for or responding to Coronavirus, be meticulous in your record keeping to get reimbursed. Costs can range from extra cleanings, food service cost increases, cancelation fees, etc.
  • There will be changes in STAAR testing dates and subjects. Guidance will come next week but expect SSI for 5th and 8th grade to be canceled, but 5th and 8th grade reading and math test are still happening in April, at this time.

If you have not yet closed, here are questions to ask to decide if closure makes sense:

1. Are there confirmed cases in your county?

2. Are people (school staff, students and their families) self-reporting risk? I.e. that they have traveled somewhere where there are cases.

If there are no cases in your county, you’ve set up a process for self-reporting, people are complying with request to report and there is no evidence that anyone has been in an area where community spreading is ongoing, it is less critical to close. However, if anyone in your school community has had significant exposure, you should close.

If you decide to remain open, take these actionable steps to limit risk:

  • Spread out drop off and pick up times so people are not all in the same place at once.
  • Spread out lunch service.
  • Give parents permission to keep kids at home. TEA is waiving 90/75% attendance requirements.
  • Cancel extracurricular activities with kids from other schools.
  • Strongly encourage self-quarantine for those that self-report any exposure risk.
  • Create a self-reporting system to keep track of exposure risk in your school community.

Misc. notes:

  • Talk to your local health authority to ask about the need to extend spring break to account for a two-week quarantine period
  • All UIL activity canceled through the end of March
  • There will be a PEIMS code to demonstrate a student is absent for reasons due to COVID-19
  • Do not discourage parents to keep kids home if they aren’t feeling well
  • You can force kids to go home if you know they have had exposure, but parents are still sending them to school

TPCSA has also learned that some Regional Service Centers or County Health Departments are hosting calls with all schools and other government departments and agencies in their region. If you’re not sure if yours in one of them, we encourage you to check in.

As some of you may have heard, Austin ISD closed its campuses and offices today now that we have official confirmed cases in Travis County. As a result, we closed the TPCSA office today and all staff will be on mandatory work from home at least through March 20. We have our extensions and direct lines forwarded to our cell phones and we all have everything we need to work from home for an extended period of time, if needed. So, we will be working and available to you for both planned projects and routine work, but also to help navigate through the next few weeks and months.

We will continue to send updates with resources as they become available. We will send an email with some resources and recommendations around food service and a collection of resources and tools that are being offered to schools for free right now.

If there is a challenge or issue that you are grappling with, please let me know so we can help source answers and solutions. And, if you are willing to share the resources you are using to communicate with parents, students, and staff; self-reporting processes and procedures; or anything else you have produced that has helped your community, please send it my way. We would like to create a spot on our website where we are sharing resources with each other.

We know this is going to be logistically challenging and emotionally challenging for you, your staff, and families, please let us know how we can support you through this crisis.

Stay safe & healthy,

Starlee

Texas Public Charter Schools Association

(512) 584-8282

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