Region 6 Leadership Update
March 17, 2020
TEA Corona Virus Update
- New information has been added to the TEA CoronaVirus website. This includes a Q&A from the federal government regarding SPED. That website is http://tea.texas.gov/coronavirus
64 confirmed cases and 1 death
1,300 people have been tested.
- Confirmed cases cover 19 counties.
- School closures: 891 school systems in 232 counties have announced some kind of closure. A bunch of school districts have extended their closures into April or the end of the year.
- TEA CoronaVirus website has three templates that help with communication to parents and communities about closures. Bullet points included on this website with general advice for the public. This can be used by districts when talking or communicating with their community.
- Operational Measures Guidance for those districts that are staying open and or re-opening. Which staff can work remotely and or work at the building. Changing pick-up and drop-off. Change lunch service.
- SPED medically fragile might do better by still going to school because they will be the only ones in the building. The special education task force will be helping think through this process.
- Supporting Instruction at Home: 25 volunteers are on this task force. TEA hoping by Thursday to share examples and such on their website.
- SPED Task Force: 20 people volunteered for the task force. They are working through the possibility that this could trigger ARDs for all SPED students because of the change in environment for students.
- Testing: Governor waived all requirements for STAAR - TEA is applying for a ESSA waiver. TAA with more meaty detail is coming, probably tomorrow.
- Districts are given flexibility to use local data to determine if a student should be promoted. Graduating seniors will go through an individual graduation committee process. This would only be relevant to classes they took this year and the EOCs they would be eligible for.
- ELL will require an ESSA waiver. TELPAS window will be extended till May 29th.
- Food Service: Summer Food Program Guidelines might be new to some people. SquareMeals.org is the website. An application is required to be filled out for a district that does not usually participate in the summer program. TDA is trying to resolve Breakfast and Lunch at the same time questions and do the kids need to be physically present issues.
- TEA is trying to stand up a website that will allow parents to find locations where food is available.
- Teacher Certification - Exams are on hold most likely till the end of April
TEA: COVID & SPED Updates
1) According to information shared by TEA today, any day for which the district is receiving funding must be counted as a day of instruction for the purposes of providing FAPE. SPED Directors need to know that every day they aren't providing SPED instruction counts as one of their 10 days! Superintendents need to communicate with their SPED Directors if they are receiving funds while the school is closed. If so, those actually count as "school days" and 10 days will add up quickly.
2) If teachers are sending packets of work home and expecting it to be returned at some point for grading, then that is considered in the same way as virtual learning and the district is opened. However, enrichment activities are not considered activities that would imply the district is open.
3) FAPE for many of our SPED students is going to very challenging for some districts to comply with, and compensatory services will need to be considered and offered for SPED students. This could be very costly for districts.
4) Allowing low incidence students to return to campus for services was also discussed. Because of the liability, this put on campuses, and the fact that districts can't force employees to work in the district when it is closed, this was also discouraged by TEA. This also applies to speech and related services.
5) Many districts will be faced with either holding ARD meetings or completing amendments (this will be very time consuming for some districts) to address the change in services for SPED students and/or ceasing some services for students until normal school operations return.
6) Currently, there are no exceptions for SPED (Services, Child-Find, Evaluation timelines, Annual ARD, etc.)
Discovery Education has been an invaluable partner for our Texas schools for many years. They have consistently gone above and beyond to provide world-class digital classroom resources and outstanding instructional support for Texas schools, and once again, they have generously stepped in to help ALL of our schools during the current coronavirus crisis in several important ways, whether subscribers or not.
FIRST – for ANY school experiencing closure who is not already currently subscribed to Discovery Education Experience (DEX), Discovery Education is offering FREE ACCESS to this outstanding resource to all of your teachers and students. You will find more information in the attached letter from Scott Kinney, K-12 President, DiscoveryEd, as well as a link where principals and superintendents can request DEX access for your school/district. Once your access is set up, Discovery’s technical staff is ready to help assist you as quickly as possible with setting up access for your teachers and students and integrating DEX into your online learning tools. “Schools accepting this offer will have access to our dynamic K-12 learning platform and its ready-to-use digital lesson plans, activities, and standards-aligned resources through the remainder of the school year, which will help teachers continue instruction in the event they need to shift to a virtual teaching environment.”
NEXT – Discovery has added a resource on their site, 5 Ways to Support Virtual Learning with Digital Content to help your teachers transition into the online learning environment.
FINALLY – Discovery has added a new Viruses and Outbreaks channel to the DEX site to provide a variety of resources to provide up-to-date school-appropriate content and lesson-starters to help address the wide variety of questions and concerns that schools across the country are dealing with in their classrooms.