Texas Education Agency releases guidelines on remote learning, announces it will distribute masks, thermometers

Staff, students not required to use PPE

The Texas Education Agency released new guidelines on remote learning, funding and school attendance on Tuesday.

SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Education Agency released new guidelines on remote learning, funding and school attendance on Tuesday.

The TEA also announced that it will be providing Personal Protective Equipment, which includes 53,000,000 disposable masks, 18,000,000 reusable masks, 12,000,000 sets of gloves, 42,500 thermometers, 600,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and 1,000,000 face shields. According to a TEA document, the PPE is expected to arrive at schools between mid-July and early August. School districts are not required to use it.

The TEA’s guidelines on remote learning described two instruction methods: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous is described as live, interactive classes with students and teachers participating real-time, teacher supported work time on video conference calls and scheduled and timed online tests. Asynchronous is described as self-paced online courses with intermittent teach instruction, preassigned work with and prerecorded instruction videos with guided support.

With synchronous remote learning, a student who is not logged in when the teacher is taking attendance will be marked absent, according to the documents. As for asynchronous learning, the TEA documents state that school staff will have to “check daily for student ‘engagement.' If students are engaged for the day, they would be marked as present-remote asynchronous.”

State funding is based on attendance; therefore, the TEA said the state will not penalize school districts for low attendance in the first 12 weeks “to allow time for us to collectively adjust.”

RELATED: Texas teachers union president wants students to wear masks in classroom

School districts across Bexar County generally supported the guidelines that the TEA released on Tuesday.

Here are some of their responses:

San Antonio ISD

“We adopted our calendar last night, and based on the guidance we received today from the TEA Commissioner, we feel comfortable that we can implement our academic models that we have been discussing with staff and parents. We have the flexibility to provide fully remote learning, for those parents who want that, as well as our hybrid approach (face-to-face and online instruction). We are also looking at certain groups of students who could come to campus every day – and those plans will be developed and customized by each school.”

“Top of mind in our decision making is the health and safety of our students and employees. We will follow the guidance of the METRO Health in aligning protocols of hygiene, physical distancing and other public health considerations.”

“We look forward to delivering high-quality educational experiences for all students.”

North East ISD

“While we are disappointed that we did not receive all the guidance we were expecting, we are pleased with the information that was issued surrounding virtual learning. We know some of our families have health concerns and we’re happy we can offer both online and in-person options to our students this school year.”

The TEA did not announce when it will release guidelines on in-person learning.

Click here for the TEA’s FAQ on attendance and enrollment for the school year 2020-2021.

About the Author:

Brina is the Executive Producer of the NightBeat and KSAT Explains. She has been with KSAT since 2015. She is a Houston native and proud to call San Antonio home.