TEA releases new public health guidance ahead of upcoming school year

The Texas Education Agency has released its new public health guidance as the school year is quickly approaching across the state. 

According to the guidance, if an individual who has been in a school is test-confirmed to have COVID-19, the school must notify its local health department, in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, including confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

The guidance added that upon receipt of information that any teacher, staff member, student, or visitor at a school is test-confirmed to have COVID-19, the school must submit a report to the Texas Department of State Health Services via an online form. The report must be submitted each Monday for the prior seven days. 

In regards to masks, per Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order, school systems cannot require students or staff to wear a mask. The guidance added that school systems must allow individuals to wear a mask if they choose to do so. 

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For students who have COVID-19, the TEA said school systems must exclude students from attending school in person who are actively sick with COVID-19 or who have received a positive test result for COVID-19. 

The TEA said in its guidance that parents must ensure they do not send a child to school on campus if the child has COVID-19 symptoms or is test-confirmed with COVID-19, until the conditions for re-entry are met. The guidance added that during the exclusion period, the school system may deliver remote instruction consistent with the practice of remote conferencing outlined in the proposed Student Attendance Accounting Handbook rules. 

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The TEA stated to help mitigate the risk of asymptomatic individuals being on campuses, school systems may provide and/or conduct recurring COVID-19 testing using rapid tests provided by the state or other sources. Testing can be conducted with staff. With prior written permission of parents, testing can be conducted with students.

For students who are close contacts, school systems are not required to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing. If school systems are made aware that a student is in close contact, the school system should notify the student’s parents. 

To read additional guidance from the TEA, click here or view below.