AUSTIN, Texas - On Tuesday, the Texas Education Agency announced that Texas schools must give parents the option to choose remote learning for their children. They must also make daily on-campus learning available.
“Parents do have the ultimate say.” Gov. Greg Abbott told FOX 7 Austin Tuesday.
Parents can opt out of on-campus learning, choosing distance learning at any time. They may be asked to commit to a full grading period, but will not have to make that commitment more than two weeks in advance.
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Corinne Vela-Speare, an AISD parent, says she is grateful to have a choice. “It’s not a one size fits all for each family,” she explained.
Vela-Speare has a 14-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter. Right now, she says she is leaning toward virtual learning for the upcoming school year. “We have high-risk individuals in our family, so I am leaning towards just staying home,” she explained.
AISD Superintendent Paul Cruz says approximately 50 percent of parents in the district want to keep their children home.
Both Vela-Speare and her husband have been working from home. She says virtual learning has been a “juggling act.” “Not every parent is as fortunate as myself and my husband to be able to work from home,” she said.
Under new TEA guidelines, anyone entering a school campus must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and will be required to wear a mask as long as Abbott's order remains in place. There will be exceptions as noted in Abbott’s order.
This comes as the Texas State Teachers Association and Texas American Federation of Teachers are coming out against school reopenings. TSTA is asking Abbott to remove his mask exemption for children under age ten, saying teachers must be given the authority to decide whether young children should wear masks in their classroom.
“Who knows if the order will still be in place when the school year begins?” Abbott said.
“I don’t think that because you’re under ten you’re magically not able to spread germs and so I think it should be required if children are going into school. Now whether it’s realistic to have that implemented, I don’t know.” Vela-Speare said.
The guidelines were released as President Trump said he would “apply pressure” on the nation's governors to open schools.
The TEA will reimburse schools for COVID-19 related expenses incurred during the 2019-2020 school year. They will also provide schools with PPE.
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