Texas Education Agency employees not working from home while requiring teachers to return to classrooms

TEA 'available by appointment only at this time'

Texas Education Agency employees are not working from home while requiring teachers to return to classrooms. (Pixabay/KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – Rumors circulating in recent weeks about Texas Education Agency employees working from home in the fall are unfounded, according to a spokesperson at the agency.

The agency’s website states that “TEA will maintain limited skeleton crews at the William B. Travis building and Moody Bank building,” due to concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

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One Twitter user shared a screenshot of the TEA office closings and teleworking protocols saying the idea of sending children back to school while TEA officials work from home didn’t make sense. The tweet was met with overwhelmingly negative reactions from fellow Twitter users.

KSAT reached out the TEA for clarification on the work-from-home policy and received the following statement:

“Commissioner [Mike] Morath and other Texas Education Agency staff whose job duties require them to be in the office have been working from the William B. Travis Building since March—just as they did before the pandemic hit. As has been planned for many weeks, all TEA staff have the ability to return to the building on a voluntary basis this month.

Based on local public health conditions, the individual and family needs of our team, and the agency’s organizational needs, we are currently determining additional next steps for our staff for later this summer and beyond.”

As of July 13, the TEA website says “to ensure the safety of the public and the Texas Education staff arising from COVID-19 concerns, we are available by appointment only at this time.”

During a July 8 press conference, Education Austin President Ken Zarifis said requiring teachers to return to unsafe environments while TEA offices are closed would be hypocritical, according to Politifact, a fact-checking journalistic-style website.

TEA spokesperson Frank Ward told Politifact that Morath and “at least 30 other employees have been working in the office since March.”

The TEA released guidelines on Tuesday for “safe return to on-campus instruction for the 2020-21 school year” and noted the priority was the health and safety of students “whether they choose to learn in a safe on-campus environment or remotely.”

“Both as Commissioner and as a public school parent, my number one priority is the health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff,” Morath said Tuesday. “That is why the guidance laid out today will provide flexibility to both parents and districts to make decisions based on the ever-changing conditions of this public health crisis. The state is and remains committed to providing a high-quality education to all Texas students, while ensuring the health and safety of students, teachers, staff, and families.”

Related links:

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