The Texas Education Agency has released new COVID-19 guidelines this week, after Governor Abbott decided to lift the statewide mask mandate starting Wednesday, March 10. Under the new guidelines, masks will automatically be required for students, teachers or staff members, however, individual school boards can vote to modify or eliminate the requirement.
In addition, the TEA and Governor Abbott announced the state will make funding available to school systems that have seen enrollment and attendance declines because of the pandemic, according to a Thursday release.
Called a “hold harmless,” it will only be available for the rest of the 2020-2021 school year, the release from Abbott’s office said. The school district must actively be working to maintain or increase on-campus attendance, too.
Abbott’s office said that districts will be funded based on attendance numbers from projections made before the pandemic, and systems will retain the teachers they budgeted for, for the remainder of this school year.
Districts will have been “held harmless” for three semesters in a row now, starting back in the spring semester of the 2019-20 school year when the pandemic first began.
Abbott said, “As more districts return to in-person instruction, we are ensuring that schools are not financially penalized for declines in attendance due to COVID-19. Providing a hold harmless for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year is a crucial part of our state’s commitment to supporting our school systems and teachers and getting more students back in the classroom.”
The Kerrville Independent School District issued a release Thursday saying that in an abundance of caution, and in continued alignment to the guidance from the CDC, TEA, and State and local medical officials, KISD will continue all COVID-19 mitigations (including mandated mask wearing) for the remainder of the school year.
KISD will continue to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 within the district, as well as districts across the state. The district will make future modifications as more incoming information is received from the CDC and TEA in regards to the 2021-2022 school year.
It was announced Wednesday that teachers, school workers and child care providers in Texas are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.