- More individual news item here.
- AFT Resource Page
- Our FAQs on Pay and Workplace Issues
- Open Letter to Districts on Pay and Workplace Issues
- TEA Resource and Guidance Page
- TASB Guidance on Compensation
- TEA Meal Finder for school meal services
- IDRA resources for online learning with an emphasis on equity
Daily News and Updates
March 26, 2020
TEA guidance on staffing issues and teacher evaluations
TEA’s guidance addresses important issues around teacher evaluations with substantial discretion given to districts with a waiver process. Certification renewals, however, will be required as normal.
TEA guidance for instructional continuity
TEA has published and Instructional Continuity FAQ that provides foundations for creating instruction for students remotely.
March 25, 2020
Big headlines are coming out of Washington on relief for those impacted by the coronavirus.
- The U.S. Senate is poised to pass (with support of the U.S. House) a $2 trillion package of relief, including expanded unemployment benefits, check payments to Americans, and numerous state and business assistance loans and funding.
- U.S. Department of Education announces it will stop collections and fees on outstanding student debt.
IDRA resources for online learning with an emphasis on equity
The Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) has put together resources and webinars for effective remote instruction, with an emphasis on providing equity in instruction for different populations of students.
TEA provides grading guidance
TEA released guidance for district grading, which pretty much says almost everything is at a district’s discretion–although there are a few interesting details, particularly on graduating seniors, GPAs and class rank.
March 23, 2020
Letter to Gov. Abbott requesting further guidance and orders for Texas public schools
Texas AFT, which represents public school employees across the state, continues to hear that some school districts are requiring personnel to report to work in person, despite the executive order closing schools and restricting gatherings to no more than 10 people. More…
Families First assistance for school employees impacted economically by Coronavirus
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, HR 6201, was recently signed into law. The law contains several provisions that will provide meaningful assistance to school district employees. It takes effect April 2, 2020 and will end on December 31, 2020. This summary is tailored to school district employees. More…
TEA coronavirus guidelines for remote instruction paper packet delivery and return
While digital communication for school work is the preferred method for remote instruction, in some instances delivering paper packets and arranging for their return may be the only option. Texas AFT addressed this today in a letter to the governor. However, TEA today offered comprehensive guidance to district for safe delivery and return of materials.
March 20, 2020
U.S. Department of Education signals waivers will be available for cancelling standardized testing
The U.S. Department of Education today announced what was already known–that state’s could seek waivers from federal requirements for testing. (Texas cancelled all STAAR testing this week by order of the governor.) However, a statement today from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos with “broad flexibilities for states to cancel testing” in the headline offered a clear indication that waivers would be granted.
“To protect students’ health and safety, a state that deems it necessary should proceed with cancelling its statewide assessments for the 2019-2020 school year,” DeVos wrote. “Since student performance, as measured by assessments, is required to be used in statewide accountability systems, any state that receives a one-year waiver may also receive a waiver from the requirement that this testing data be used in the statewide accountability system due to the national emergency.”
March 19, 2020
Governor Abbott orders closures of all schools, bars, restaurants and other gathering places
Gov. 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 is in effect from midnight Friday (March 20) to midnight April 3. The prospect the governor extending the order and mandating closure through the school year unknown. The order effectively shuts down many other businesses like bars, restaurants and gyms for the same time period, although takeout service for restaurants is still allowed.
TRS closes offices to public, moving to remote counseling sessions
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.
Texas House Speaker supports full pay for all school employees during closures
Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen issues a news release today urging districts to provide full pay to all school employees during closures. More…
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.
March 18, 2020
TEA offer updates confirming STAAR cancellation and outlining impacts
TEA today released further clarification on how districts should handle cancellation of STAAR testing.
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.
March 17, 2020
STAAR testing effectively cancelled
On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott used his authority to waive any requirements for STAAR assessments, and he requested that the federal government waive federally mandated requirements. More…
Open letter to all districts and school employees
Texas AFT has heard from many members about their concerns over pay and forced attendance at work and/or meetings during times of extended closures. While we understand that districts must maintain their operations and possibly provide for remote instruction, we also insist that the safety of our students and school employees be the first priority. With CDC recommendations and best practices as a foundation, Texas AFT therefore strongly urges districts to strictly follow these guidelines, and we will act on behalf of our members to see that they are met. More…
Local district employees and volunteers doing heroic work to feed students
We’ve seen amazing stories of our local union members and co-workers keeping food distribution going to students who are relying on assistance for meals each day. Here’s a list of districts that we know are distributing food, along with locations and times, and we’ll be updating the list.
TEA ongoing guidance and resources from TASA
The Texas Education Agency’s main site for guidance to districts and school employees can be found here. Additionally, our friends at the Texas Association of School Administrators have a comprehensive list of helpful links here.
TRS information on operations and health care
TRS will be doing remote counseling sessions for members instead through on-site visits. See the letter from executive director Brian Guthrie for an update. TRS also has a page with more information on services, including free Teledoc services, a Nurses Medical line, and free prescription delivery.
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.
- In face of COVID-19, Senate cancels meetings, while House leaves cancellations up to committee chairs
- Texas AFT urges state to disperse funding for COVID-19, and local unions urge comprehensive planning for their districts to address the virus
- Be prepared: Resources for Covid-19 tailored to school employees