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Texas Education Agency Launches New Protocols for School Districts

The Texas Education Agency released new health guidelines for public schools more than a week after Texas House legislators sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott and TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, urging them to reconsider mask mandates in schools and funding for virtual education due to the uptick in COVID-19 cases statewide.

The Texas Education Agency also added that the new guidelines address on-campus instruction, non-UIL extracurricular sports and activities and any other activities the students must complete. If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, a school must notify its local health department following state and federal laws.The Texas Education Agency also added that after receiving the information that any teacher, staff member, student or visitor at a school has tested positive for COVID-19, the school must also submit a report to the Department of State Health Services.

The report must be submitted every Monday for the last seven days. The new guidelines do not require face masks, per the governor’s emergency order that bans mask mandates. Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 must be excluded from attending classes. Schools may offer remote learning to students who are out. Parents to keep their children at home if they have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.The agency says schools can have regular COVID-19 testing for staff members and students with a parent’s permission. School systems will not be required to contact trace since the data from the 2020-2021 school year showed very low COVID-19 transmission rates among children and lower transmission rates among children than adults.

The public guidance by the education agency stated that if school systems get information that a student is prone to Covid, the school system should notify the student’s parents. Parents of students who are determined to be close contacts of an individual with COVID-19 may opt to keep their students at home during the recommended stay-at-home period.

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