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Texas education officials release guidelines for safe return to on-campus instruction

Here's what parents can expect in about a month's time.

SAN ANTONIO — In the middle of an ongoing pandemic, not much is certain. But for now, the first day of school is set.

Texas parents have two options for the upcoming school year: They can allow their child to continue distance-learning from home or send them back to their classrooms.

To protect students and teachers, the Texas Education Agency has released its guidelines for a safe return to on-campus instruction:

Daily on-campus learning will be available to all parents who would like their students to learn in school each day.

  • In addition, all parents will have the option to choose remote learning for their children, initially, or at any point as the year progresses. Parents who choose remote instruction for their students may be asked to commit to remote instruction for a full grading period (e.g. 6 or 9 weeks), but will not have to make that commitment more than two weeks in advance, so they can make a decision based on the latest public health information.

Health and safety procedures will be in place to support student and teacher safety.

  • Some health procedures are mandated for every school in the state. For example, all students, teachers, staff, and visitors coming to campus must be screened before being allowed on campus. Consistent with the Governor’s most recent executive order, and assuming that order is still in place, masks will be required while in school buildings, with certain exceptions made, as noted in the order. Schools will also be required to follow any forthcoming executive orders issued by the Governor.
  • Additional health procedures are recommended for every school that can reasonably implement those procedures.
  • Districts have the option to establish a phased-in return to on-campus instruction for up to the first three weeks of the school year, to ensure all appropriate health and safety procedures are fully in place.

TEA is providing school systems with resources to ensure a strong start. This includes:

  • Reimbursement for extra COVID-19-related expenses incurred during the 2019-20 school year;
    Tens of millions of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies provided to school systems at no cost to Texas schools;
  • Free online, TEKS-aligned learning tools to deliver remote instruction;
  • Teacher training provided at no cost to the school system; and
  • Statewide efforts to help bridge the digital divide for students at home, along with other ongoing support.

San Antonio ISD will finalize its protocols later this month. So far, the plan is to disinfect campuses daily and have hand sanitizer in each classroom.

During the City of San Antonio's Tuesday night briefing, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the TEA is moving in the right direction to steer this virus away from our schools.

"There's not going to be a magic moment where we all get to go back out and enjoy life the way we did back in January," Nirenberg said. "We're going to have to get used to these minor inconveniences, wearing a mask, keeping distance with people, if we're going to enjoy any semblance of a life we had in January."

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