Below are today’s updates regarding COVID-19 and its impact on Texas public schools.  For additional resources, please visit our COVID-19 page.

TEA Special Education and Special Populations Updates for the Week of April 13, 2020
Dean Micknal, Partner

The Texas Education Agency has continued to post and revise guidance regarding Special Education and Special Populations during the previous week.

The revisions have included updating the general COVID19 Special Education Q&A to:

  1. Emphasize that the requirement to continue services to students identified and receiving services for dyslexia is ongoing and remind districts that there are currently no state or federal requirements that preclude the provision of dyslexia services to students in a virtual environment due to the Governor having waived restrictions related to teletherapy for dyslexia therapists holding licensure through the Texas Department of Licensure and Regulation; and,
  2. Clarify that the SHARS parental consent and annual notice mandates have not been changed so as to allow a previous provided consent to bill Medicaid to suffice for purposes of telehealth services.

In addition to updating the Q&A, the Agency posted new guidance on progress monitoring, managing challenging behaviors for both parents and LEAs, counseling (both as a related service, and remote counseling and student support services), and Occupational, Physical and Speech Language Therapy.

Finally, with respect to Special Populations, TEA significantly revised the existing English Learner FAQ, identified a statewide webinar to be available through TEHCY to address how to support students and families experiencing homelessness during COVID-19, and posted new guidance on Pregnancy Related Services and Gifted/Talented Education.

How Does Your District Calculate FMLA Leave? You May Want to Make a Policy Change
Heather Castillo, Partner

We know that two new Family Medical Leave Act laws related to the COVID-19 pandemic went into effect on April 1, 2020, as follows:

  1. Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) which extends Family and Medical Leave; and
  2. Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) which provides for emergency paid sick leave for absences.

These new provisions of the law are only effective for the limited time period of April 1 to December 31, 2020.

Please click here to continue reading.

Schools to Stay Closed for 2019-2020: TEA Rules Concerning Use of School Buildings by Teachers and Staff
Holly James, Senior Associate

On April 17, 2020, Governor Abbott ordered all schools to remain closed “to in-person classroom attendance by students” for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.  Teachers and staff are encouraged to continue to work remotely from home if possible, but are now permitted to “return to schools to conduct remote video instruction, as well as perform administrative duties, under the strict terms required by the Texas Education Agency.”

Please click here to continue reading.

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House Bill 3 Strengthens School Safety and Security

House Bill 3 brings major changes to school safety, specifically requiring districts to strengthen active shooter policies and safety plans. Effective September 1, 2023, it is imperative that districts begin to review the new requirements of HB 3 to ensure policies and procedures are compliant in time for the upcoming school year. Security Officers/Facility Safety […]

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