The Texas Education Agency has released comprehensive guidelines for the 2020-21 school year so classrooms can safely open after being shut down since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Both as Commissioner and as a public school parent, my number one priority is the health and safety of our students, teachers and staff,” Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a written statement. “That is why the guidance laid out today will provide flexibility to both parents and districts to make decisions based on the ever-changing conditions of this public health crisis. The state is and remains committed to providing a high-quality education to all Texas students, while ensuring the health and safety of students, teachers, staff, and families.”
The guidance includes allowing for daily on-campus learning for parents who feel it is safe for their children, according to the agency. It also addresses Governor Greg Abbott's mask order.
TEA said schools will be expected to follow the mask order, if it is still in place when school starts. Masks will be required in school buildings with exceptions outlined in the order, including that children under the age of 10 are not required to wear a mask.
Parents will have the option to choose distance learning for their students before classes start in the fall or at any point in the school year, although they could be asked to commit to that approach for an entire grading period.
Districts also have the option to phase school in, according to TEA. Districts can phase in students for up to the first three weeks of school.
A statement from the TEA said parents and educators should expect to see some campuses close for "brief periods of time" during the upcoming school year due to the nature of COVID-19 pandemic.
This is a developing story and will be updated.