The American Federation of Teachers, our national affiliate, wrapped up its virtual convention yesterday after a week of programs and conversations examining the challenges ahead in educating our schoolchildren in a pandemic.
AFT President Randi Weingarten made it clear in her conversations and state of the union speech that the union will make safety the priority in decisions around the country and stressed that “nothing is off the table” with union actions in local districts to resist unsafe reopenings. You can find more convention coverage here and daily news items here.
Earlier this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released legal advice claiming that local health authorities cannot delay school reopenings. Shortly after, the Texas Education Agency revised its guidance to state that districts closing with no on-site instruction based solely on the order of these authorities would not receive state funding. The moves spurred confusion among officials in districts in the five major urban counties with health authority orders mandating starts for on-site instruction to be delayed until September 8.
The attorney general opinion and reaction from TEA does create a risk that some districts will backtrack and plan for on-site instruction sooner. AFT and Texas AFT continue to demand that areas have declining infections for 14 days and other specific metrics before decisions are made to resume on-site instruction.
While we work on the next steps, we encourage you to sign this petition from our friends at Just Fund It TX to ask the governor to keep Texas schools fully funded.
Be sure to stay tuned to our Facebook page for evolving news on reopenings.