The Texas Education Agency released new guidance on Friday allowing school districts to delay in-person learning for at least four weeks.
After the initial four weeks, districts, in areas hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, can ask for waivers to continue remote instruction for up to one month.
Additionally, local school boards, in areas with a high rate of community spread, can also delay the start of the school year.
Texas lawmakers sent a letter to educators on Friday, just weeks before the first day of school, to explain the changes in guidance:
- Schools may start the fall semester online only for at least four weeks and transition into in-person learning
- Schools that are 100% virtual must get technology into the hands of every student. Students who do not get access to required technology must have in-person instruction
- The state will funnel $200 million through TEA to help schools get the technology needed
- Schools will be granted minimum funding for ADA for the first 12 weeks of the fall semester
- Schools will receive funding based on in-person and virtual attendance
ABC13 reached out to several school districts to see if the latest guidance would change the current plan of in-person learning with an option for parents to opt out and choose virtual instruction.
A spokesperson with Katy ISD said the district is currently reviewing the new guidance issued by TEA this morning.
Clear Creek ISD said their Tuesday special meeting, which is open to the public, will have an item on the list discussing a proposed modification to the school year. Clear Creek ISD still plans to make an official announcement on July 27 about reopening.
Fort Bend, Alief, Spring, Aldine, Pearland, Splendora and Houston ISD have not yet responded as of Friday evening.
Colin Dempsey, Executive Director of Comp-U-Dopt Houston-Galveston region, said time is running out, as the organization and school districts try to get the technology into the hands of students before the first day of school.
"It's an essential," Dempsey said. "This has an extraordinary impact on historically underserved, under represented and under resourced communities, and so we know students who don't have access to this is putting parents in a very tough choice. Do I send my child to school so they can learn or do I keep them home so they can stay safe? And, we want to try to remove that calculus by making sure every child does have a device."
Dempsey said they are taking donations, and if someone has a gently used computer, Comp-U-Dopt can fix it up, get the proper software on the computer and give it to a child in need.
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