The Texas Education Agency issued guidelines Tuesday for reconvening a new school year, with on-campus safety procedures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and optional remote learning for every student whose parents request it.

“Texas public school districts must reopen campuses for in-person instruction in August in order to continue receiving state funding, unless Gov. Greg Abbott issues a school closure order or there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 on an individual campus that forces a temporary shutdown of the building,” Education Commissioner Mike Morath said.

The guidelines summarized research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control on COVID-19 in children. The CDC has found that “while children do get infected by COVID-19 and some severe outcomes have been reported in children, relatively few children with COVID-19 are hospitalized or have severe symptoms,” according to the guidelines. “Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that COVID-19 risks must be balanced with the need for children to attend school in person.”

The section also emphasized that lack of in-person access to education leads to many negative consequences.

There has been community pushback to the TEA guidelines. In a status on Facebook, Texas choir teacher Clinton Hardy strongly opposed them.

“Greg Abbott is telling us we must go to school in person starting this fall, however, TEA employees are working from home,” Hardy said. “How is it OK for TEA to work from home but require teachers and students to risk their safety by going back to in-person learning in the fall?”

TEA instated a mandatory telework policy for agency employees that started March 17.

“TEA will not be accepting visitors at this time,” according to the policy.

Dallas ISD has not responded to the guidelines, but it did release a parent survey for returning to school in late June. The survey is now closed, and feedback will be taken into account as the plans to return to school Aug. 17 fall into place.

Richardson ISD Superintendent Jeannie Stone released a video outlining the district’s plan to protect teachers and students when schools open six weeks from today.

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