AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott along with the Texas Education Agency announced the state will make funding available to school systems that have seen enrollment and attendance declines because of the pandemic, according to a Thursday release.
Called a “hold harmless,” it will only be available for the rest of the 2020-21 school year, the release from Abbott’s office said. The school district must actively be working to maintain or increase on-campus attendance, too.
Districts will be funded based on attendance numbers from projections made before the pandemic. This will help systems retain the teachers they budgeted for, for the remainder of this school year, Abbott’s office said.
Texas schools are typically funded based on enrollment and daily attendance on campus. However, the TEA wanted to offer flexibility and support during these times, regardless of whether students attended in-person or remotely, Abbott’s office said.
Districts will have been “held harmless” for three semesters in a row now, starting back in the spring semester of the 2019-20 school year when the pandemic first began.
“As more districts return to in-person instruction, we are ensuring that schools are not financially penalized for declines in attendance due to COVID-19,” Abbott said in the release. “Providing a hold harmless for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year is a crucial part of our state’s commitment to supporting our school systems and teachers and getting more students back in the classroom.”
Teachers, school workers and child care providers in Texas are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The TEA also released new COVID-19 guidelines this week, after Abbott decided to lift the statewide mask mandate starting Wednesday of next week. Under the new guidelines, masks will automatically be required for students, teachers or staff members, however, individual school boards can vote to modify or eliminate the requirement.