March 20, 2020: Gov. orders closures of all schools until at least April 3; Election delays? AND other COVID-19 news

You can find all news, updates and resources addressing COVID-19 here on our website.

Legislative Hotline

  • Gov. Abbott orders closures of all schools, bars, restaurants and other gathering places
  • Gov. Abbott allows for delays in local elections
  • Share My Lesson, a great resource for remote instruction and info on Covid-19
  • There’s a new school finance law in Texas: Now what?
  • Feedback needed on the impact of closures on children with disabilities and special medical needs
  • TRS closes offices to the public, but is offering remote counseling

Gov. Abbott orders closures of all schools, bars, restaurants and other gathering places

Executive OrderGov. Greg Abbott today ordered the closure of all schools “temporarily” as well as all gatherings of more than 10 people. Many school districts have already extended their breaks by a week or more in response to the Coronavirus outbreaks, but the governor’s action make closure mandatory statewide.

The executive order does not set any date for schools reopening, which leaves the prospect of closure through the school year unknown, but more likely. The order effectively shuts down many other businesses like bars, restaurants and gyms, although takeout service for restaurants is still allowed.

Read the full order here.

 

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Gov. Abbott allows for delays in local elections

In response to the Coronavirus outbreaks, Gov. Greg Abbott Wednesday used his authority to give local jurisdictions the ability to delay their local elections–scheduled currently for May 2–to the general election date of November 3.

Some districts already hold November school board elections, while others don’t–notably Dallas ISD, which has three seats open for a planned May 2 election. The governor’s proclamation also allows for delays of special elections forward to the November 3 date. We will keep you updated on which districts decide on a delay.

Meanwhile, state and national Democratic and Republican primary runoffs are still set for May 26, but Gov. Abbott said this week that “everything is on the table” for possible changes in dates or even how elections are conducted–such as moving to more mail-in ballots to avoid crowded polling places during the pandemic. The Dallas Morning news has a thorough look at the issues involved.

Read the governor’s proclamation

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Share My Lesson, a great resource for remote instruction and info on COVID-19


Here’s a reminder that sharemylesson.com has thousands of lesson plans and other curriculum tools to help with remote instruction–including an online Remote Community to share information and best practices and a checklist for distance learning. The site also has resources on Covid-19.

 

Share My Lesson also is hosting its annual Virtual Conference on March 24-26 with dozens of online, one-hour courses available for professional development credit. More info and registration here or at the links below.

Register for Webinars by: Keynotes, Day, or Topic

Topics Include:

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There’s a new school finance law in Texas
Now what?

The Center for Public Policy Priorities published a report earlier this month on HB 3, here’s what you need to know.

HB 3 is a great first step, but because of the property tax cuts, its new investment in public education isn’t sustainable and will make future improvements a challenging endeavor. Next session will be an uphill battle to ensure the Texas revenue system is capable of meeting all of our state’s needs.

While we took action to renovate our school finance system by increasing early education funding, we continue to fall behind in funding for special education and bilingual/English as a second language programs.

CPPP’s recommendations:

  • Replace the statewide tax compression with an annually adjusted homestead exemption that reflects rising home values. Implement a circuit-breaker program to protect lower-income homeowners.
  • Repeal inequitable tax rate reductions for individual school districts.
  • Subject all golden pennies to recapture to reduce funding inequities.
  • The Legislature should commission an independent study to determine the true costs of providing a high-quality education. Once a cost-based basic allotment is established, it should be adjusted for inflation annually.
  • The Legislature should monitor how labor intensive it is for school districts and the Texas Education Agency to collect and analyze the Census data needed for the compensatory education funding and study if additional adjustments are needed for rural communities.
  • Increase the 10 percent ELL funding weight to reflect the true costs of providing a high-quality bilingual or ESL program.
  • Fund pre-K as a full-day program so that districts can invest the Early Education Allotment in additional strategies that improve outcomes in Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
  • Remove the College / Career / Military Readiness bonus for non-economically disadvantaged students or increase the threshold to a greater amount.
  • Adjust the basic allotment for inflation each year to ensure teacher compensation grows with rising costs.
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Feedback needed on the impact of closures on children with disabilities and special medical needs

As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues and many core community institutions close or slow down, the AFT is tracking several different district, state and federal guidelines for schools. There appears to be inconsistent attention to the diverse ways that schools’ decisions impact the unique and dynamic needs of children with disabilities, medically fragile children and children with special health needs.

The AFT Education Issues Department would appreciate your expertise with these students to guide our response. Take our survey here.

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TRS closes offices to the public, but is offering remote counseling

TRS announced the following: To help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and based on the latest recommendations from the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), TRS is moving to remote operations from March 16 through March 30. This means that our offices will be closed to the public, and we will not be offering in-person scheduled or walk-in counseling appointments. Members with previously scheduled counseling appointments can change their appointment to a remote counseling session by calling 1-800-223-8778. If you are unable to meet with a benefit counselor by phone or through video conferencing our counselors will work with you to reschedule your appointment.

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