TEA releases Covid-19 guidelines for new school year

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Back To School. Getty Images

Back To School. Getty Images

HOUSTON (CW39) –   The Texas Education Agency has released guidelines for the upcoming school year.  The TEA says it’s working with the Office of the Governor, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to coordinate and plan the state’s response to COVID-19.  The new guidance addresses wearing face masks, which cannot be required by school systems.  It also addresses what actions to take if someone with the virus has been in a school, students who have covid-19 and students who are in close contacts. The following is the TEA’s implementation of the guidance:

“ Required Actions if Individuals with Test-Confirmed Cases Have Been in a School

1. If an individual who has been in a school is test-confirmed to have COVID-19, the school must

notify its local health department, in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws

and regulations, including confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act

(ADA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

2. Upon receipt of information that any teacher, staff member, student, or visitor at a school is

test-confirmed to have COVID-19, the school must submit a report to the Texas Department

of State Health Services via an online form. The report must be submitted each Monday for

the prior seven days (Monday-Sunday).

Masks

Per GA-38, school systems cannot require students or staff to wear a mask. GA-38 addresses

government-mandated face coverings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other

necessarily affected by GA-38.  School systems must allow individuals to wear a mask if they choose to do so.

Students Who Have COVID-19

authority to require protective equipment, including masks, in an employment setting is not

As provided in this Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Rule, school systems must

exclude students from attending school in person who are actively sick with COVID-19 or who

have received a positive test result for COVID-19. Parents must ensure they do not send a child

to school on campus if the child has COVID-19 symptoms or is test-confirmed with COVID-19,

until the conditions for re-entry are met. See the DSHS rule for more details, including the

conditions for ending the exclusion period and returning to school.

During the exclusion period, the school system may deliver remote instruction consistent with

the practice of remote conferencing outlined in the proposed Student Attendance Accounting

Handbook (SAAH) rules, as described here.

To help mitigate the risk of asymptomatic individuals being on campuses, school systems may

provide and/or conduct recurring COVID-19 testing using rapid tests provided by the state or

other sources. Testing can be conducted with staff. With prior written permission of parents,

testing can be conducted with students.

Students Who Are Close Contacts

As a reference, close contact determinations are generally based on guidance outlined by the

CDC, which notes that individuals who are vaccinated are not considered close contacts. Given

the data from 2020-21 showing very low COVID-19 transmission rates in a classroom setting and

data demonstrating lower transmission rates among children than adults, school systems are

not required to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing. If school systems are made aware that a

student is a close contact, 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.

For individuals who are determined to be close contacts, a 14-day stay-at-home period was

previously advised by the CDC based on the incubation period of the virus. CDC has since

updated their guidance, and the stay-at-home period can end for students experiencing no

symptoms on Day 10 after close contact exposure, if no subsequent COVID-19 testing is

performed.

Alternately, students can end the stay-at-home period if they receive a negative result from a

PCR acute infection test after the close contact exposure ends.

During the stay-at-home period, the school system may deliver remote instruction consistent

with the practice of remote conferencing outlined in the proposed Student Attendance

Accounting Handbook (SAAH) rules. “ – Texas Education Agency

For more on the guidance from the Texas Education Agency regarding the upcoming school year, visit their website.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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