AUSTIN (KXAN) — COVID-19 has shuttered many parts of daily life for a lot of people, including what teacher’s describe to KXAN as the value of meeting with them in person.  As teachers close out the school year without the hugs, the in-person celebrations and even without the physical walk across the stage, one thing remains: the vision and hope from teachers to their beloved students. view article arw

For anyone with a weak immune system, the stakes of the COVID-19 pandemic haven’t changed.  As state leaders relax stay-at-home orders, a vaccine is likely still more than a year away. That means it’s still too dangerous for people with compromised immune systems to come into contact with others.  Laura Mueller, who lives in South Austin, has cystic fibrosis – a genetic lung disorder that causes constant inflammation and infection in her lungs. Even before the pandemic, she said, she lived in fear of coming into contact with anyone who might be sick. view article arw

Some fear that Texas students will suffer from the “COVID slide” because of the pandemic. Wichita Falls ISD’s top educator remains optimistic and plans for the district to take a practical approach. WFISD Superintendent Michael Kuhrt said he doesn’t believe “some of the hype” that students are going to lose a year of learning because of the pandemic. view article arw

Austin-Travis County health officials warn we could be headed back into a strict stay-at-home order in a matter of weeks if people continue letting their guards down as businesses re-open.  The main message from Austin-Travis County's Dr. Mark Escott to Travis County Commissioners Tuesday was that COVID-19 is not winding down. Escott said it seems people are starting to slack on social distancing with friends and family and wearing masks at stores and businesses. They're two things experts say we have to do if we want to keep the economy open. view article arw

President Trump met Wednesday with two governors in the White House to talk about the reopening of the country during the covid-19 pandemic and took the opportunity to contradict the country’s most esteemed public health official, Anthony S. Fauci, who has warned against moving too fast to send kids back into school buildings.  On Tuesday, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Senate committee during a virtual hearing that policymakers should be cautious about opening up schools, which closed across the country this spring to try to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. view article arw

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With all of the constant changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ABC13 reached out to 15 school districts in the Houston area to see what the administration has planned for students when they return to school in the fall.  Fort Bend ISD  Superintendent Charles Dupre said there were three options the district was considering for this upcoming school year. The options include: traditional classroom instructions, virtual instruction or a hybrid of both online and traditional classes. view article arw

CRYSTAL CITY, Texas- Zavala County officials say they believe a small outbreak started with a relative who visited from out of town after a report Monday after nine family members tested positive for COVID-19.  One newly infected family member works for Crystal City ISD and as a precaution, the school's food distribution program has been placed on hold. County Judge Joe Luna says residents are taking advantage of free testing by the National Guard. view article arw

Seeking to curb the spread of the coronavirus among the state’s most vulnerable populations, Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that members of the Texas National Guard will disinfect nursing homes across the state.  It’s part of the efforts to decrease the spread of COVID-19 among nursing home residents and employees in facilities that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Nearly 47% of the state’s 1,158 deaths attributed to COVI D19 have been of residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities. view article arw

As Texas prepares to further loosen emergency restrictions next week, officials say they now have about half of the contact tracers they need to help spot and contain new outbreaks of COVID-19. A spokesman for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that more than 2,000 tracers have been deployed, and that the state is “already in the process of ramping up even further to meet the governor’s goal of 4,000.” view article arw

Ector County ISD on Wednesday learned that a kitchen staff member at Permian High School tested positive for COVID-19. This team member worked last week and displayed no symptoms of the virus. view article arw

Sunnyvale ISD is a small but quickly growing school district with more than 2,000 students. Its superintendent said they will discuss every option to reopen.  DALLAS — Graduations and curbside school celebrations signal the end of one school year and the beginning of the next. But after nine weeks of out-of-classroom learning, the next school year may begin with as much uncertainty as the last.  As school districts across North Texas decide when to open for the fall semester, Sunnyvale ISD is planning on an Aug. 19 first day of school. How it opens is still up for discussion.    (13) view article arw

Escalating tensions between Texas state officials and the leaders of some of the state’s biggest cities, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office warned officials in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio on Tuesday to roll back “unlawful” local emergency orders that impose stricter coronavirus restrictions than the state has issued — and hinted that there will be lawsuits if they do not.  As he begins to reopen the Texas economy in phases, Gov. Greg Abbott has allowed a statewide stay-at-home order to lapse and certain businesses to reopen at limited capacity — 25% in the state’s urban areas. While businesses have the choice of whether to reopen, Abbott has said cities and municipalities do not: His order supersedes any from local officials who wish to extend strict social distancing protocols and keep their local industries shuttered longer. view article arw

WASHINGTON — Two of the federal government’s top health officials painted a grim picture of the months ahead on Tuesday, warning a Senate panel that the coronavirus pandemic was far from contained, just a day after President Donald Trump declared that “we have met the moment and we have prevailed.”  The officials — Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — predicted dire consequences if the nation reopened its economy too soon, noting that the United States still lacked critical testing capacity and the ability to trace the contacts of those infected. view article arw

As Texas confronts a huge spike this month in new coronavirus cases, the best glimmer of hope may be in Houston.  One month after Texas Medical Center leaders proclaimed the area had begun flattening the COVID-19 curve, the rate at which disease spreads through the community, Harris and surrounding counties have firmly settled into a plateau, the number of new cases typically coming in at between 100 and 200 a day. That is a far cry from the 786 new cases the area reported April 9. view article arw

There are many unknowns about what fall will look like for school districts, but Highland Park ISD is preparing for a variety of potential scenarios.  “One would be pie in the sky and that would be a brick and mortar reopening and everything similar to the way that it was…a second possibility is that we are 100% remote learning, we’re 100% online…we have to plan as if we were going to be 100% remote. Personally, do I think that’s going to happen? My crystal ball says probably not, but we’ve got to be ready in case. view article arw

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth ISD is preparing to celebrate the Class of 2020 with virtual graduations on Saturday, June 20 (schedule below).  The following week students may also participate in outdoor ‘in-person’ celebrations, following recently-issued TEA guidelines for such ceremonies (schedule below). view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas – May 6, 2020 – The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced today that its partnership with AmplioSpeech, a leading provider of speech pathology technology, has reached 10,000 Texas students with special education needs. The collaboration is a response to the COVID-19-related shutdown of school campuses statewide and equips school districts with digital speech and language therapy programs, which ensures that students needing such services are receiving them via at-home learning.  view article arw

Longview Independent School District trustees approved new guidelines for course selection and campus security during their regular meeting Monday, May 11th.  Board members approved the 2020-21 Course Selection Guide for Longview High School. view article arw

COPPERAS COVE, Texas (KWTX) While everyone is talking about graduation, Copperas Cove ISD held a board meeting on Monday to discuss summer school and the possibilities in the schedule for the next academic year.  “We have some serious concerns doing virtual learning with the students,” said Superintendent Joe Burns.  “What we anticipate is that they have not been successful and that, thus far, they need some more concentrated focus instruction in a very small group." view article arw

Linda Estrada, a school secretary at Runn Elementary School in Donna, Texas, has been receiving texts day and night from education support professionals (ESP) across the Donna Independent School District asking about the requirement to report back to work this month. “What if I feel unsafe?” “What about my kids at home?” “What if I’m in a high risk group?”  “There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ and a lot of anxiety,” says Estrada, an NEA Board member and union activist. view article arw

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has signed the “Pledge to Distance,” a campaign launched by Klein High School junior Sneha Shenoy to promote social distancing.  Hidalgo tweeted a drawing provided by the campaign of her face with the letters of her name forming the shape of a mask. Each pledger receives a customized piece of artwork of their own faces to share on social media to inspire others to take the pledge as well. view article arw

Within the first month of its launch, the state’s new mental health support line received nearly 2,000 calls from Texans in 100 counties who were struggling with fears of getting sick, feelings of isolation from social distancing and anxiety over a crashing economy caused by the coronavirus pandemic. One call came from an 87-year-old woman living at an assisted living facility who said she felt frustrated about not being able to be near her loved ones. By the end of the call she thanked the person on the line for making suggestions on how to use technology to reach out to her family and for chatting with her for a few minutes. view article arw

As Gov. Greg Abbott reopens the economy, he has urged Texans to wear masks in public to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.But during his televised news conferences, neither the governor nor his advisors don masks. State troopers mingle in the Capitol without covering their faces. And Abbott has stopped short of requiring residents to wear masks, and prohibited local officials from penalizing people who go without them. view article arw

This is a special edition of EduClips, our recurring roundup of top education headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across 10 states typically attend class every day. view article arw

We realize, as everyone should, that our schools have been thrown into an impossible situation. COVID-19 forced the closure of thousands of school buildings and pushed all schoolwork online.  We’re proud of our school districts — and specifically appreciate our teachers — for jumping in with both feet to meet this challenge. They have mounted herculean efforts to quickly revamp how Texas’ 5 million students are educated. view article arw

The prospects of widespread in-person summer school for Houston-area children appear increasingly dim, creating another barrier to catching up students falling behind during the novel coronavirus pandemic, multiple education leaders said in recent days.  Superintendents throughout the region and state have started signaling that in-person instruction would only resume this summer for a small number of the neediest students — if children can return to campuses at all. The state’s second- and seventh-largest districts — Dallas and Katy ISDs, respectively — already announced in recent days that all summer school classes will take place virtually this year. view article arw

Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. said at a May 6 press conference that he’s received many calls and messages from county residents concerned about beaches and parks being reopened even as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow.  They’re open again nonetheless, at least for now. The prohibition on county beach access had already been lifted, with restrictions, before Gov. Greg Abbott last week ordered that all state beaches be reopened. Trevino provided clarification on the state’s orders regarding reopened beaches and parks — and weddings, funerals and memorials, and what to expect when barbershops and beauty salons are allowed to reopen starting Friday. view article arw

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Many Texas special education students say they are still waiting for help to make up for delays and denials.  More than two years after the U.S. Department of Education demanded that Texas education officials provide extra help for thousands of students denied special education, the state has failed to provide clear guidance to school districts, leaving struggling children to flounder, records show.  Federal officials in 2018 ordered the Texas Education Agency to try to undo damage caused by an arbitrary cap in place in Texas for years that instructed districts to keep the number of students receiving special education services under 8.5 percent. view article arw

JCPenney recently donated 100,000 disposable face masks and 500,000 shopping bags to Dallas ISD in support of its remarkable effort to feed area families during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The donation comes on #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of generosity and unity created in response to the unprecedented need caused by the pandemic.  Dallas ISD's Food and Child Nutrition Services Program has provided more than three million meals since schools closed due to the pandemic, and its food-service employees were featured on the cover of TIME magazine's April 20 issue honoring frontline heroes. view article arw

There are 72 Texas counties allowed to reopen businesses up to 50% capacity per Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide order. The reopening began on Friday when the governor’s pandemic stay-at-home order expired.  There are 254 counties in Texas. The 72 counties that qualify are in rural areas, especially in the sparsely populated western counties. The closest such county to Fort Worth is Wise County, which includes Bridgeport, Decatur, Boyd, Rhome and Chico. Jack County, which includes Jacksboro and is directly west of Wise County, is also reopened to 50% capacity. Erath County, which includes Stephenville, is also allowed to reopen. view article arw

Distance learning is a given as the Brownville Independent School District continues to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic.  “ We’re looking at different models for the fall semester. We anticipate that we may have to start the year with a modified schedule and modified calendar,” Superintendent Rene Gutierrez said at a Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday. “Ideally we start the year back to normal but that may be very unlikely, so we are looking at different options for us to consider. … I think everyone would agree that it’s very unlikely that its going to be a normal first day of class.” view article arw

Local governments could find their emergency powers hemmed in during future emergencies under recommendations proposed by a task force that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick set up.  State government needs an off-switch to end local disaster declarations if necessary and clarify what steps mayors, counties and school boards can take during an emergency, says the Texans Back to Work Task Force in its 114-page report. view article arw

Denton ISD board members voted unanimously to terminate a probationary contract for a district nurse this week. Kay Hill was hired for the job in 2018. She previously worked for the district’s Head Start program. She had been removed from the program’s website by Wednesday evening. view article arw

The La Joya Independent School District (ISD) is providing Wi-Fi access for students needing to take an Advanced Placement (AP) exam. The ‘parking lot’ testing sites will be available for any student needing Wi-Fi assistance, the exams can also be taken at home with internet access. view article arw

Just as they face unprecedented new challenges and financial costs, leaders of K-12 public school districts around the country are warning of dire consequences from sharp budget cuts from state legislatures attempting to deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.  The alarm was sounded by school superintendents in 62 cities, who sent a letter to Congress through the nonprofit Council for the Great City Schools, asking Congress for billions of dollars in new federal education assistance and warning that some 275,000 teachers could be laid off in their districts alone because of budget cuts caused by a drop in state and local revenue during the crisis. (You can see the letter in full below.) Those would add to existing shortages in virtually every state.   (8) view article arw