AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas public education students will resume in-person learning in the fall, the state’s education agency confirmed.
Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath shared the update on a conference call with state lawmakers Thursday, a TEA spokesperson said.
“It will be safe for Texas public school students, teachers, and staff to return to school campuses for in-person instruction this fall,” Morath said through a statement.
“But there will also be flexibility for families with health concerns so that their children can be educated remotely, if the parent so chooses,” Morath continued.
Guidance for the 2020-2021 school year will be released by the agency next week, Morath stated.
“Currently, there are no additional safety requirements, but guidelines from the TEA are expected soon,” State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, chair of the senate education committee, tweeted Thursday.
According to State Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, who was on the call, the agency “will not mandate masking for students, but will allow ISDs to make decisions that are ‘supported by science.'”
The Texas State Teachers Association was critical of the announcement.
“We should be in no hurry to reopen school buildings, and safety should be the first and foremost consideration when we do,” association president Noel Candelaria said in a statement. “Teachers and other school employees need to be directly involved in planning for the safe reopening of school facilities. They have to work in school buildings. The governor and the state education commissioner don’t.”
“For several days now, we have been seeing record numbers of new COVID-19 cases in Texas, but Gov. Greg Abbott apparently would like us to think we have this pandemic licked. Far from it,” Candelaria wrote. “We don’t even know when the pandemic will hit a peak, and part of the reason is that Gov. Abbott rushed to reopen restaurants, amusement facilities and other businesses too soon. Now, he seems to be in a big hurry to reopen schools, putting the health and safety of millions of Texas school children, educators and their families and communities at risk.”
This is a developing story. We will update it as more information becomes available.