Coronavirus (COVID-19 ) Information

Public Health Guidance:
Updated TEA Public Health Guidance:
Two main changes to the TEA health guidance here as of September 2nd.  First is that school districts may exclude household-based close contact students and have them stay at home from school for the appropriate quarantine time (as noted here) in an area of high or rising COVID cases.  This means that if a child is in the same household as a positive COVID case, the school may have them stay at home to prevent transmission at school.

The second tweak is providing a bit more flexibility to staff that has been identified as a close contact to a positive case.  If they continue to be on campus, rapid testing must be done periodically for 10 days past exposure.  There was some confusing guidance on the timing of these tests, and this guidance allows the school to schedule these periodically on a schedule that makes sense for the school or district. 

Contact tracing is no longer required to be done in public schools, but when cases are reported to the public health authority, they will likely conduct this tracing and notify close contacts.  Parents of students who are identified as close contacts may decide to quarantine their child.  If the school is made aware of a close contact, they should notify that student’s parents.  Staff members who meet the close contact threshold should be tested regularly. 

A reminder that private schools are not required to follow every detail of TEA guidance, but since they are setting a standard of care for students in the state, private schools should take note of the guidance and consider it when developing their policies.

Updated Texas Medical Association Return to School Letter: 
The Texas Medical Association updated their return to school letter that many schools found handy in order for everyone to understand the diagnosis and quarantine guidelines.  This updated letter is found here

Updated Texas Medical Association Decision Tree for School Nurses:
Many school nurses and other staff found decision trees and other graphics helpful when making decisions about students and staff at school.  This updated decision tree that is based on CDC guidelines may be found here.  

CDC Case Study of Outbreak in Marin County School:
The case study of a COVID-19 outbreak in a Marin County Elementary school illustrates how this illness may be spread in a classroom.  The description from the CDC website is found here.

Definition of Close Contact:  
Here is a reminder of the CDC definition of close contact in schools.  In most locations, close contacts are defined as within 6 feet of a confirmed case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more within 24 hours. 

In schools, it excludes students who were between 3-6 feet apart if properly masked.  This exclusion does not apply to adults and staff, only students who were within 3-6 feet with masks on and worn properly.  Austin Public Health created a graphic flowchart here that helps clarify these guidelines.

Mask Confusion:
The CDC reversed its July 9th guidance to recommend that everyone, fully vaccinated or not, remain masked indoors in areas of high transmission of the Delta variant of COVID-19, and this includes schools.  The CDC school-specific guidance is here.  

Governor Abbott has issued an executive order that public schools cannot mandate masks.  Private schools have discretion here to require masks on campus if they so choose.  Fifty or so local school districts and municipalities are defying the Governor’s order and instituting a mask mandate regardless of the executive order.  These fights continue to play out in court.

These local mandates vary in terms of applicability to private schools.  The Dallas order does not include private schools, but does include licensed child care centers, and the county judge “hopes that private schools will comply”.  The Bexar County order specifically does include private schools.  The Harris County order includes non-religious private schools. 

If you live in one of these areas with a local mandate and are not sure how it affects your school, please contact your school attorney for interpretation of these conflicting orders.

OSHA Guidance Update:
OSHA has updated its guidance on August 13th to all employers in order to protect those employees that are not vaccinated or at high risk due to the delta variant.  This update is explained here by Fisher Phillips.  

This comes after the recently released requirements last month that apply to school nurse and healthcare settings in private schools.  These include a detailed COVID-19 plan with input from non-managerial employees.  More details from Fisher Phillips here.

Vision, Hearing, and Spinal Screenings Changes
Javier Velez has been selected as the new Vision, Hearing, and Spinal Screening Program Manager following the retirement of former manager Elijah Brown.  His goal is to work together in order to better serve our community.  He may be contacted at vhssprogram@dshs.texas.gov or (512)776-7420.  A reminder that these screenings are required to be reported from private and public schools.  More information will likely come if there are any changes to the reporting system this year due to the Delta variant.

Rapid COVID Testing

New Testing Program
On September 15th, the free rapid COVID testing program will change.  They will no longer be provided from TDEM, but rather they will be provided by private vendors through a program designed by the TEA and DSHS.  One-pager here.  Slide deck with more details on this program is here.  FAQs are here.  Private schools are going to have more options for testing and this will all be provided by third-party vendors paid for by the TEA through DSHS.  Please join this webinar to learn the details of this new testing program: Tuesday, Sept. 14th from 1-2pm.  Link to register here.  A recording will be available.  

***Reapplying:
Initially, all schools that were participating in the first free COVID test program through TDEM would not need to reapply.  This changed over the weekend, and now all schools who want to participate in this program must fill out this simple application with updated student and staff numbers in order to get the allocation and select the vendors that the schools want to use.  Schools that have not applied before but want to participate now should also use the same application.

How It Works:
Each private school that decides to participate will have a dedicated allotment of money to use in the way that the school chooses to do its testing program.  Schools that apply will be informed of their allocation after September 15th. 

There are four private companies that the school may choose from to do this.  Chart of these vendors is here.  The school may decide to use one company, 2, 3, or all 4.  It is up to the school to contact the chosen companies to set up whatever arrangement works for the school.  This money may be used to simply buy the rapid tests and continue testing in the same way as before, or the school may contract with the company to have them do the testing.  The school may decide to test only symptomatic people on campus, screen groups before activities, or do random pool testing.  PCR tests are now available as well as the rapid antigen tests.  Schools may create their own testing program, protocol, and decide what type of test to use.

Vendor Webinars: 
Each private vendor will have a webinar explaining the services that they provide that can be used with this grant money.

Achieve Health Management – Monday, Sept. 20th at 1pm.   Register here
Thermo Fisher Scientific  – Tuesday, Sept. 21st at 3pm.  Register here.
SDI Labs – Wednesday, Sept. 22nd at 1pm.  Register here.
Quest Diagnostics – Wednesday, Sept. 22nd at 11am.  Register here.
Affinity Empowering – Wednesday, Sept. 22nd at 11am.  Register here.

**You will note that there is a fifth vendor listed on the vendor chart called Affinity Empowering.  This is a free service provided by the federal government that provides only pool testing.  This is an option for schools, but no grant money need be used to access this pool testing.

Do You Have and Urgent Need for Tests Right Now?:
If you are running out of tests and need more urgently, please contact us at Laura@TexasPrivateSchools.org and copy CovidCaseReport@tea.texas.gov.  We are working together to solve any problems in this transition.

If you do not have an urgent need, please wait until after Sept. 16th to contact vendors.  There are webinars the week of Sept. 20th that will explain more about what each vendor provides that may be helpful in designing your private school testing program.

**Houston Schools Please Note:  The City of Houston applied for its own federal grant for testing, so they are going to operate their own program.  The list of the schools already participating in the testing program that will transition to the Houston program is here.  You should be getting more information from your local leaders.  

**Standalone Preschools Please Note:  You are not eligible for this program.  We are working with the TEA and DSHS to try to come up with a solution to this problem.

Points of Clarification

  • You will not pay anything.  The vendors will be paid with your allocation, which schools will be made aware of after they submit this application (also linked above).  
  • You must design your program to fit in the allotment of money that you will be getting.  These allotments will be reconsidered in January.
  • You will see mention of a grant program in addition to this testing program.  We do not know yet whether private schools can participate in this program because this would be a direct appropriation to the school.  We will keep you posted on this, but focus on the private vendor piece for now.
  • Please use the email COVIDCaseReport@tea.texas.gov to communicate with the TEA about this program.  
  • If you have issues with the vendors, please contact DSHS at tcec@dshs.texas.gov.
  • If you have rapid BinaxNOW tests that you will not be using, please contact k-12logs@tdem.texas.gov.  They will redistribute them to schools that need more.

The FAQs for this testing program may be found here.  A recent update involves disposal of these tests:  1. the printed expiration date may be extended by 6 months for a total of 12 months of use and 2. any test that has reached its expiration date may be disposed of as general waste.  The bottle of reagent in these expired tests must be disposed of as medical waste per TCEQ requirements here.  

Rapid Tests NOT Federal Financial Assistance:
From the US Department of Education:

Colleagues,

As you know, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is providing COVID-19 rapid test kits to States for use in public and private schools to test students and school personnel.  You asked some questions to us about this provision of kits, and we are writing to let you know that HHS has advised our Department that it has determined that these COVID-19 rapid test kits under the current emergency circumstances and under this system of distribution does not constitute “federal financial assistance.”  HHS has concluded under the limited emergency circumstances of the pandemic at this time, the distribution of these supplies for use by these public and private schools for students and school personnel does not establish an “assistance relationship” with schools.  It is our understanding that, absent this current health emergency, schools would not normally engage in these COVID-19 testing activities, and that the supply of these kits does not result in a benefit to the schools themselves but to the students and educational staff and the overall community.  This distribution program allows schools to perform a “public community service” during this health emergency by disseminating and administering rapid test kits to teachers, other educational personnel in the schools, and students.  

Please let us know if you have any additional questions. 

Maureen Dowling

An enormous thank you to Maureen Dowling, Pamela Allen, and others at the Department of Education for working so hard to get this answer for us!

Rapid COVID Tests:
For those of you administering the rapid COVID tests, here is more information about disposing of the tests.  

Confirmed Cases

View the list of confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Texas here.

TEA Letters to Confirm Positive Coronavirus Cases:
In the spring, the TEA released sample letters to help districts and schools communicate with parents.  These may be found here:

Presumptive Case Staff
Presumptive Case Student
Confirmed Case Staff
Confirmed Case Student

These were released when schools were closing, but you may want to use some of this language in your own communications in consultation with your school attorney.  The local health authority will also be instrumental in helping direct these communications once a confirmed case is found on campus.

Vaccine Information: 
President Biden’s Vaccine Mandate: 
President Biden announced on Thursday that OSHA will release an emergency rule requiring all workplaces of 100 employees or more mandate the vaccine or weekly COVID tests.  There are many questions about this announcement and Fisher Phillips has an article with five steps that employers can take to prepare for this ruling.  Here is a way to watch the recording of the webinar on this important topic.  Kristin Smith and Susan Guerette with Fisher Phillips have information specific to private schools here

Mandatory Vaccine Clarification:
Some schools are still confused about whether they can require vaccines for students who are old enough to get the vaccine.  Chad Flores at law firm Beck Redden did an analysis of the most recent vaccine legislation here that might be helpful for schools, school boards, and families.  He is also happy to help schools that are confronting this issue on the front lines.  His email is cflores@beckredden.com.

Religious Objections to Vaccine:
Fisher Phillips has a great article about thinking through exemptions from vaccines due to religious objections and possible accommodations here.

Vaccines for Children Ages 12-15:
 There are currently 1.6 million children ages 12-15 in Texas and the vaccine has been shown to be 100% effective for this age range. The Department of State Health Services is trying to make it easier for smaller vaccine providers to access and distribute these vaccines by reducing the required minimum dose order and allowing a longer storage time for these doses.  If you think you might be interested in providing these vaccines, please email enrollTexasIZ@dshs.texas.gov or go here for more information.  Current providers do not need to re-enroll.  A few other items: 
1.  The dose and schedule is the same as that for adults. 
2.  Parental consent is required, but parents do not need to be present at the vaccination. 
3. Any child with medical issues should be vaccinated at his or her “medical home” or current doctor. 
4.  Providers should be aware of the schedule for other regularly scheduled childhood vaccines and make sure that the COVID vaccine is spaced accordingly.  There has been a great disruption in childhood vaccinations and providers are encouraged to use this opportunity to make sure that children get scheduled for all needed vaccines.

Vaccine Side Effects:
Information may be found here from Fisher Phillips relating to vaccine side effects.  Be careful if planning one vaccine clinic for all staff, because many may have symptoms at once which could cause some problems during a school day!

Federal Assistance:
Cares Act Part Two/American Rescue Plan:
Federal Relief Package – The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSA):
Passed on December 21st and signed by the President on December 27th, this $2.3 trillion dollar omnibus bill includes a few items of relevance to private schools.  

EANS (Emergency Assistance to Nonpublic Schools): is a program within the second round of GEER funds:

Texas will get $153 million dollars from the federal government specifically for private school COVID relief.  Every school is eligible, regardless of the number of low income students.  This program will be administered through one office at the TEA (not local school districts), and TPSA is working closely with them to create the most simple and user-friendly application possible.  The application is not ready yet, but it should be ready in the next month.

In the FAQs from the Department of Education, they stated very clearly that even reimbursements to private schools for previous COVID-related purchases do NOT make a school a recipient of federal financial assistance.  However, these items for which schools are reimbursed or items that are purchased using these funds will technically become property of the state.  There is a slight chance that the state could come back at the end of this grant period (2023) and take back items purchased.  It is a slim chance, but something to keep in mind when planning uses of these funds. 

ALLOWABLE EXPENSES:

  • Supplies to sanitize, disinfect, and clean school facilities
  • PPE
  • Improving ventilation systems, including windows or portable air purification systems
  • Training and professional development for staff on sanitization, the use of PPE, and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Physical barriers to facilitate social distancing
  • Other materials, supplies or equipment recommended by the CDC for reopening and operation of school facilities to effectively maintain health and safety
  • Expanding capacity to administer coronavirus testing to effectively monitor and suppress the virus
  • Educational technology
  • Redeveloping instructional plans for remote or hybrid learning or to address learning loss
  • Leasing sites or spaces to ensure social distancing
  • Reasonable transportation costs
  • Initiating and maintaining education and support services or assistance for remote or hybrid learning or to address learning loss
  • Reimbursement for the expenses of any services or assistance described above that a non-public school incurred on or after March 13, 2020 except for the services or assistance below:

These MAY NOT be reimbursed:

  • Improvements to ventilation systems (including windows), except for portable air purification systems, which may be reimbursed
  • Any expenses reimbursed with a PPP loan
  • Staff training and professional development on sanitization, the use of PPE, and minimizing the spread of COVID-19
  • Developing instructional plans, including curriculum development, for remote or hybrid learning or to address learning loss
  • Initiating and maintaining education and support services or assistance for remote or hybrid learning or to address learning loss. 

EANS Application:
Federal Funding Updates:
Do You Have Questions for Region 10 About EANS 1 Round 1?:
Laura and Amber at Region 10 are having drop-in office hours to answer any questions about reimbursements, procuring services, etc. now that Region 10 is taking over the EANS 1Round 1 process from the TEA.

These are from 10am to 12pm on Tuesdays, and a representative from the TEA will join in as well.  Zoom link here.

EANS 1 Round 2 – The Application is Live:
Here is the link to the EANS 1 Round 2 application that is due by midnight on Friday, October 8th.  The recommended browser for this application is Google Chrome.  This is how we are going to spend the rest of the $152 million dollars that were allocated for private schools. 

1.  Start with the very clear and helpful training on how to fill this out here. They actually go through and fill out the form, which is very much like the first application, with examples of what can be applied for.

2. 
Read these comprehensive FAQs that answer all questions submitted to the TEA in their information sessions.

3.  Here are a few highlights we gleaned from the Q and As:

  • How you justify these expenses makes a big difference.  Be as specific as possible about how these expenses relate to COVID-19 health and safety and/or learning loss due to the pandemic. Be sure to answer the question, “how does this relate to COVID?”
  • Items must be temporary and portable, not a permanent renovation to a school.
  • Some ideas that were mentioned as appropriate:  carts for new technology, fans and misters for outdoor classrooms, passenger vans, off-site rental to store furniture removed for social distancing. 
  • Please remember that you should assume items will need to be returned to the state at the end of the grant – September of 2023. 
  • There won’t be a list of approved vendors compiled by Region 10, but you are welcome to submit any vendor that you are interested in working with to be approved.
  • If you apply for conferences for professional development (specifically tied to learning loss, of course), the registration may be covered, but not other expenses. It will need to be a secular and non-ideological event. 
  • The TEA is checking into whether items bought using these funds may be purchased by private schools after the grant period is over. 
  • School nurses may be hired through third party contractors and that goes in section D3 of the application. 
  • D1 and D2 reimbursements will take at least 4 weeks, but can be done by direct deposit or a check request.  You will hear from Region 10 about this process if you applied for a reimbursement.
  • As in the first application, please do not write “etc.” in any description of items requested.  Be specific about what you need. 

Do You Need Individual Help With These Applications?:
Our good friends and Gold Sponsors, Warren with Catapult Learning and Lydia with Palmetto Fortis are still available to help you individually think through applying for EANS 1 Round 2 as well as plan for EANS 2 in the future.   Lydia has updated the Google spreadsheet with information they have collected from the first round of applications.  Feel free to add information from your school’s application that might be helpful to other schools.  This will be continuously updated.

They are back to a school-friendly schedule for drop-in consultation sessions to answer questions and help with applications.  These will be on Monday and Thursday afternoons at 3:30pm CST.  

Monday link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82032190119?pwd=Z01LZGZ3RlM1K0dWTHBmaHpXbWlrdz09

Thursday link:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86242686527?pwd=TDhDalpkNnA1Q3VTd3RMNlNkaUhhdz09

Another Round Coming – EANS 2:
We have held off giving much information on EANS 2 until we get through both round of the EANS 1 processes.  However, we are getting some questions, so we will let you know:
1.  Schools that did take the PPP round 2 after December 27th, 2020 are NOT eligible for EANS 2, just as they were not eligible for EANS 1. 
2.  Also, there will be a low-income threshold that schools must meet in order to be eligible for EANS 2.  We are currently working with the TEA to establish what this threshold is and will let you know as soon as possible.  Schools with a significant count of low-income students that did NOT take a second round of PPP funding should pay special attention to the EANS 2 process.

All EANS information may be found on this TEA website.  Questions may be directed to EANS@tea.texas.gov.

PPP Update: 
**You Can’t Take Both:  If you want to apply for the PPP in order to get the money before it runs out, you may do so.  Don’t accept the money you are awarded if you intend to apply for EANS funds.  If you decide that the EANS funds are a better option for your school, you may submit documentation of not taking the PPP loan with your EANS application to the TEA. 

Direct Forgiveness Portal Opened:
On July 28th, the Small Business Administration opened a portal for loan forgiveness for loans of $150,000 or less.  More information may be found here.  Analysis of this change from SST may be found here

The loan necessity questionnaire is also no longer required to process loan forgiveness decisions.  This relieves some of the paperwork burden in forgiving these loans.  More information from Jackson Walker here.

Other Pieces of the Federal Legislation:
***Employee Retention Tax Credit:
An interesting article here in Inc. indicates that the Employee Retention Tax Credit may go away in order to fund the new federal infrastructure bill.  This article from SST sets the deadline at September 30, 2021.  If your school has not looked into applying for refund for payroll taxes, please do so quickly. You may complete this application yourself, or Andrew Brown (andrewbrown@synergipartners.com) with Synergi Partners is available to help complete these applications for schools with at least 20 employees before these funds are reallocated elsewhere.

***Alphabet Soup:
There are many, many programs (PPP, EANS, Employee Retention Tax Credit, Emergency Connectivity Fund, Erate) that we have tried to explain to all private schools, but exhaustion and confusion are completely understandable at this point.  We have found a consultant that is available to talk through all of these options with schools.  David Sexauer (david@davidsexauer.com) is available for quick Zooms to answer questions about all of these programs, whether your school is eligible, and if they are worth your time.

EIDL Loans:
This still-available loan may have been overlooked in all of the information about the second round of PPP loans.  The Small Business Administration continues to administer these loans and information is here.  These loans are not forgivable, and the terms are 2.75% interest for 30 years.  The amount available is 6 months of working capital for a maximum of $150,000. 

If you have already received one of these loans, and it was less than $150,000, you may request an increase in your existing SBA EIDL loan.  

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Limit Raised:
The Small Business Administration raised the EIDL loan limit to $500,000, up from $150,000.  These low interest loans (2.75% for non-profits) have proven popular with business and school struggling to recover from the pandemic.  They also extended the deferment period on March 12th so that repayments do not have to be made until 2022.  An article from the Journal of Accountancy describes these changes here, and more information from the SBA website with application is here.

Paid Sick Leave/Family Medical Leave Tax Credits:
While the FFCRA mandate to pay sick leave and family medical leave expired at the end of 2020, schools may still offer this leave and take the tax credit through September 30th, 2021.  The new federal legislation also increases the credit amount and expands the reasons that this leave may be taken.  If an employee has taken all of the eligible hours, another bank of 10 days goes into effect on April 1st.  Schools should take care to offer this leave to all employees equally if it is decided to continue this benefit.  More information may be found here.

Updated FAQs for FFCRA Employee Sick and Family Leave:
The IRS issued an update to the FAQs for employers who have continued to voluntarily provide this leave from April 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021.  Please find an explanation by SST here along with a link to the FAQs.

Emergency Connectivity Fund Window Opens Again:
The Federal Communications Commission announced that it awarded $5.1 billion dollars to fund 9.1 million connected devices in the first application window.  Texas received $496,488,916.30.  They are reopening this opportunity from September 28th to October 13th for schools and libraries for the purchase of laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connections for off-campus use by students and school staff in need and is available to support off-campus learning, such as homework, even if schools have returned to full time in-person instruction.  Your e-rate expert or consultant can help you apply for these funds.  More information is here.

This may be a great option for schools that were not eligible to apply for EANS because they took the PPP Loan #2.  This fund would buy devices for students and internet access and equipment if needed.  Schools may be considered a recipient of federal financial assistance if they participate in this program.  Update:  Schools that apply for this grant do not have to use an application that would make them a recipient of federal financial assistance.  If you do apply for this fund and are concerned about being a recipient of federal financial assistance, DO NOT register with SAM.gov and go the invoicing route, not the reimbursement route.  More information may be found here on the National Catholic Education Association website.  While this information is specifically for Catholic schools, it applies to other types of private schools as well.

This application is very similar to the E-rate application, so schools that already participate in the E-rate program have a head start in understanding this process.  It is a complicated process and application, but there are consultants ready to help.  David 
Sexauer is an expert in this field and can be reached at david@davidsexauer.com.

If you are not familiar with the E-rate program, which has been in existence since 1996, and would like to consider getting reimbursed for internet access and equipment costs, contact David Sexauer at david@davidsexauer.com.

Information for Child Care Centers: 
Resources for Child Care Centers:
While some of our early childhood centers have been able to take advantage of programs like the PPE distribution and rapid COVID tests, many are left out of federal programs designed for K-12 schools.  Here is a comprehensive guide to programs specific for child care programs compiled by the National Association for the Education of Young Children that might be helpful:  Navigating Relief for Child Care Providers – Google Docs

Statewide Executive Orders

PRIVATE SCHOOLS RELEASED FROM TEA GUIDELINES:

The executive order (found here) states the following: “For the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, public schools may resume operations for the summer as provided by, and under the minimum standard health protocols found in, guidance issued by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).  Private schools and institutions of higher education are encouraged to establish similar standards.  Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, schools may conduct graduation ceremonies consistent with the minimum standard health protocols found in guidance issued by the TEA.” 

What Does This Mean?:
This means that private schools may publish their own reopening standards.   Two important things to keep in mind: 
1.  The TEA guidelines establish a standard of care.  This means that to deviate from these guidelines too much may open your school to legal liability. 
2. The executive order states explicitly that the private school plan should be “similar” to the TEA plan.  This is a directive to stay as close to the TEA plan as possible while creating a reopening scenario that fits your individual campus. 

All of the guidance established by the state, as well as helpful documents from the Centers for Disease Control and other entities, may be found below under “Reopenings.”

This is the guidance for public schools, and private schools were directed by the Governor to create their own plan.  However, please remember that this document and any revisions thereafter are creating a standard of care for schoolchildren in Texas.  Deviating greatly from these recommendations could result in increased liability for your school.

ATTORNEY GENERAL GUIDANCE:
Attorney General Ken Paxton released another letter of guidance stating that local health authorities may not preemptively close any private school (religious or non-religious) due to threat of virus spread.  The decision to open and close is up to local private school leaders.  If outbreaks of an illness do occur in a school, then the health authority may take action.

An enormous thank you to Attorney General Ken Paxton and Senator Paul Bettencourt for once again advocating for the independence and autonomy of private schools in Texas.

I Wear a Mask Because:
If you are looking for resources to help explain to parents the importance of wearing masks, the TEA has published editable PDFs that may be helpful here in English and here in Spanish.  This is a resource for you if you want it.  Distributing these documents is not required.

More Health and Safety Resources:
The TEA has published a Public Health Operational Guidebook to help schools and school districts incorporate all of these health and safety measures that are in the updated TEA guidance.  At the end of this guidebook, there is a series of tabletop exercises to practice what to do in a given circumstance.  These scenarios come with an answer key in order to practice what to do if these situations happen in your school, according to the TEA.  There may be more trainings happening in conjunction with this guidebook and these exercises through the regional service centers and we will pass along any details that we get.

Other Helpful Documents

Helpful EEOC Guidance for COVID in the Workplace:
A document published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may answer some questions about how to handle issues of accommodations, testing, medical information, etc. in the workplace.  For example, if an employee calls in sick, you can’t ask for medical information about any family members, but you can ask if the employee has had close contact with anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed diagnosis.

Rosner Space Planning Tool:
Are you wondering how to incorporate social distancing into your classrooms and how many children can fit?  There is a free tool designed by a junior at CalTech that does the work for you.  The link for the website where you can download the Rosner model is here.  The link to the webinar to learn how to use this tool is on YouTube here

Ari is also helping schools with planning for larger spaces like auditoriums, chapels, stadiums, and even buses.  There is a new paid option on the website under “Space Planning Model” that allows for more complex room configurations and variable social distancing.  

A Little Mask Humor:
Something about this has to be funny, right?  Find here some real possibilities of what we are going to face in dealing with children wearing masks in schools.  Masks are not mandated statewide at this point, but many schools are incorporating them in their reopening plans.

Resources from TEA

Trauma-Informed Training:
Project Restore is a new online training launched by the TEA to help with the mental health issues of the pandemic. 

OnRamps Distance Learning Catalogue:
UT Austin is providing free self-paced training for middle and high school teachers who will be teaching in a distance learning or hybrid model this year.  This program draws from over 8 years of experience in offering distance education and professional learning and development. The webinar about this program will be on Tuesday, August 18th at 3pm and will be recorded for later viewing.  More information may be found here

The TEA has quickly put together a website with a schedule and sample curriculum for PreK – Grade 5 to help districts and schools that are struggling with distance learning.  This is an ongoing project, but may be helpful for schools that still have some questions about how to complete the school year in a meaningful way.

Mental Health Resources:
The TEA has published a resource for families about protecting the mental health of students.  This may be found here.  It is found in Spanish as well here.

Private School Resources

NAIS Sharing Solutions:
The National Association of Independent Schools has set up a website called Sharing Solutions, which is open to all to share ideas and resources during this challenging time. You can post and browse school examples about distance learning, rethinking operations, caring for community, and more.

From the National Association of Independent Schools https://www.nais.org/articles/pages/additional-covid-19-guidance-for-schools/?utm_source=hpc&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=mc&utm_content=mc

From the Association of Christian Schools International: https://community.acsi.org/coronavirusresources/home – includes information about the Coronavirus as well as low-cost or free online learning, and tuition and employment information.

The Southern Association of Independent Schools is happy to share its resources, which are being updated constantly: https://www.sais.org/general/custom.asp?page=Coronavirus_Resources_for_Schools

A compilation of all free resources offered by Ed Tech companies
https://thejournal.com/articles/2020/03/13/free-resources-ed-tech-companies-step-up-during-coronavirus-outbreak.aspx?s=the_nu_180320&oly_enc_id=0917J3558689I1U

The TEA cybersecurity webinar is recorded here.  The PowerPoint alone is here.

Catapult Learning is also offering a new webinar called “Supercharging In-Home Lesson Design” here.

FACTS is offering a series of webinars hosted by thought leaders in online learning here.

WideOpenSchool:
Wide Open School is a free collection of the best online learning experiences for kids curated by the editors at Common Sense.  Featured content includes Khan Academy, Scholastic, PBS, YouTube, and National Geographic.

FACTS Resources:
FACTS offers many resources about all of the issues that schools are grappling with right now – the best online teaching practices, pivoting school marketing strategies, data privacy, understanding the CARES Act, etc.  These may all be found here.

Grief Resources:
The Southwest Association of Episcopal Schools has put together a very helpful document about dealing with death in the school community.

Child Sex Abuse Online:
The FBI has confirmed that there is an increase in grooming behaviors online, as expected, since all education has gone to distance learning.  Boundary education is even more important now than ever, and should be included in any professional development that is being planned about this new mode of education.  If a teacher is fired or allowed to resign for inappropriate relationships with students, remember to report this within 7 days to the State Board of Educator Certification.  More information found here.
 
Resource for Online Student Protection Staff Development:
We mentioned this week that the FBI has reported an uptick in online predatory behavior.  Praesidium is offering some quick and easy guidance for staff and administrators to ensure appropriate boundaries and professionalism while working from home.
 
PBS:
All 10 Texas PBS affiliates are now airing TEKS-aligned programming. The At-Home Learning Initiative consists of shows and supplemental materials that further support remote instruction.  While most private schools do not use TEKS for their curriculum, this may be another resource for schools and families, especially when a lack of individual devices and/or sufficient broadband is an issue in the home.