Friday, July 10, 2020 / by Jenny Carroll
As Mid-August looms nearer and COVID-19 cases spike ever higher in Central Texas counties, parents and communities are gearing up for what the new school year will bring. As of July 7th, the administration is planning on reopening schools according to the stated Safety Guidelines listed on the TEA site for the school year schedules shown at the bottom but with attendance options for parents and children. Each family, at this time, has the option to attend on-site classes or to keep the kiddos at home for remote learning 2.0.
Remote learning is expected to look different than last school year's experience with more structured schedules, attendance expectations, and daily engagement requirements. Expectations for both on-site and remote learning are aligned and kids using either option are expected to follow the rules to satisfy passing the grade and advancing on to the next level.
It's difficult to say what on-site learning will look like in relation to protective face masks as Governor Abbots' Executive Order excludes children under 10 from wearing a mask and it may be hard to enforce with younger kids. It is encouraged to start children wearing masks for periods of time at home to get them used to the idea before the first day of school if this becomes a requirement of attendance.
(Taken from the TEA.Texas.gov Public Health Guidance from July 7th)
"During the first three weeks of school, to facilitate an effective back-to-school transition process, school systems may temporarily limit access to on-campus instruction. As a result, some parents opting for their student(s) to attend on-campus may be required to start with remote instruction temporarily, although any family who does not have Internet access and/or devices for distance learning at home is still entitled to have their student receive on-campus instruction each day during this transition period, as they are during the rest of the year.
School systems must require teachers and staff to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms before coming onto campus each day. Symptoms are listed at the end of this document. The self-screening should include teachers and staff taking their own temperature. Teachers and staff must report to the school system if they themselves have COVID-19 symptoms or are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and, if so, they must remain off campus until they meet the criteria for re-entry as noted below.
Additionally, they must report to the school system if they have had close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19, as defined at the end of this document, and, if so, must remain off campus until the 14-day incubation period has passed.
Parents must ensure they do not send a child to school on campus if the child has COVID-19 symptoms (as listed in this document) or is lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and instead should opt to receive remote instruction until the below conditions for re-entry are met.
Parents may also opt to have their students receive remote instruction if their child has had close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19 until the 14-day incubation period has passed. School systems may consider screening students for COVID-19 as well. Screening is accomplished by asking questions by phone or other electronic methods and/or in person. The screening questions should also be asked of a student’s parent if that parent will be dropping off or picking up their child from inside the school. Regularly performing a forehead temperature check of otherwise asymptomatic students in school is not recommended, but the practice is also not prohibited by this guidance.
Excluding parental drop-off and pick-up as discussed above, before visitors are allowed onto campuses, school systems must screen all visitors to determine if the visitors have COVID-19 symptoms (as listed in this document) or are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and, if so, they must remain off campus until they meet the criteria for re-entry as noted below.
Additionally, school systems must screen to determine if visitors have had close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and, if so, they must remain off campus until the 14-day incubation period has passed. When practical, screening questions could be supplemented with temperature checks of adults." per the TEA.Texas.gov Safety Guidelines.
There are more details and COVID-19 related screening guidelines set out in the full document. The full Safety Guidelines document can be read here. It's important to check back with your district to confirm how each entity is handling attendance and safety protocols. This is still a moving target as COVID-19 cases impact our communities.
Please be sure you are doing your best to maintain social distancing and mask-wearing mandates to ensure our return to a more normal lifestyle. We're all in this together so let's all do our part to get through it to the best of our abilities.
What are your thoughts on the schools opening? We'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.