TEA eases restrictions to allow school campuses to close for 14 days

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Education Agency has issued new guidelines that relaxes restrictions on school districts facing operational hardships due to continued COVID-19 activity on campus.

According to the SY 20-21 Attendance and Enrollment FAQ, a school campus can close for up to 14 days if “a significant number of the instruction staff at the campus is impacted due to a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak.”

Previously, the TEA had only allowed school campuses to close for up to five days without penalty.

The TEA emphasized that the school must first try to make operational adjustments to address any staffing shortages before making the decision to close for two weeks.

Only the campus that is being impacted by the positive COVID-19 cases can close, the TEA says. Schools may opt to shift to a hybrid model, with subsets of students alternating between on-campus and virtual instruction. Students without adequate internet access or appropriate learning devices must be allowed access to a campus during this period.

The other major shift within the TEA guidelines essentially says that school districts that do not follow the TEA guidelines and offer virtual instruction beyond these parameters will only be entitled to half the operational minutes they would normally claim on an in-person day. The TEA says school districts could then add additional minutes later on in their calendar to bring them back into compliance.

This would allow a school district to proactively close in anticipation of an outbreak with the planned strategy of making it up in half days later on in the year.

Reach KXAN’s Education Reporter Alex Caprariello by email at alexc@kxan.com or by phone at 512-703-5365, or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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