Re-opening Schools in the Houston Area:: What You Need to Know for 2020-2021

The Texas Education Agency has officially released its re-opening guidelines for schools across Texas for the 2020-2021 school year as it relates to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Moving forward under these guidelines, school districts, private schools, and public charter schools will decide policies and procedures for their students and families. 

Houston Moms always strives to share the most up to date info to assist you in making the best decisions for your family. In that spirit, we have compiled this page of resources for you to easily reference as information becomes available. 

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Houston-Area School Districts COVID-19 Opening Plans

Below are links to the school districts with info posted about their COVID response plans. If plans were not readily available, the link to the district’s website will be linked. We will update the information as it becomes available. Please direct district-based questions to your school district.


TEA Guidelines

As always, students MUST attend 90% of the days a course is offered (with some exceptions) in order to be awarded credit for the course and/or to be promoted to the next grade. Student attendance may be earned through the delivery of virtual instruction AND any parent may request that their student be offered virtual instruction from any school system that offers such instruction.
 

Switching from virtual learning to in-class learning::

If a parent who chooses virtual instruction and then wants their child to switch to an on-campus instructional setting, they can do so, but school systems are permitted to limit these transitions to occur only at the end of a grading period, if it will be beneficial to the student’s instructional quality.

  • If a parent requests virtual instruction and the school does not offer it, the parent may enroll in another school that does offer it for transfer students.

During the first three weeks of school, to facilitate an effective back-to-school transition process, school systems may temporarily limit access to on-campus instruction.


Temperature Checks::

School systems must require teachers and staff to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms before coming onto campus each day. School systems may consider screening students for COVID-19 as well.

Parents must ensure they do not send a child to school on campus if the child has COVID-19 symptoms OR is lab-confirmed with COVID-19.

  • Regularly performing a forehead temperature check of otherwise asymptomatic students in school is not recommended, but the practice is also not prohibited by this guidance.
  • Parents may also opt to have their students receive remote instruction if their child has had close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19 until the 14-day incubation period has passed.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are:: 

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
Schools must immediately separate any student who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school until the student can be picked up by a parent or guardian. Schools should clean the areas used by the individual who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school (student, teacher, or staff) as soon as is feasible.
 

Notifications of COVID-19 Positive Cases

Schools must notify all teachers, staff, and families of all students in a school if a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participate on any on-campus activities.
 
Any individuals who themselves either are lab-confirmed to have COVID-19; or experience the symptoms of COVID-19 must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to campus until::
  • at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever
    without the use of fever-reducing medications), AND
  • the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of
    breath), AND
  • at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

Hand sanitizer and/or handwashing stations with soap and water should be available at each entrance and in ever classroom, encouraging students, teachers, staff, and campus visitors to sanitize and/or wash hands frequently.
Campuses should institute more frequent cleaning practices, including additional cleaning by janitorial staff, as well as provide the opportunity for children to clean their own spaces before and after they are used, in ways that are safe and developmentally appropriate.
 

Masks

Schools are required to comply with the governor’s executive order regarding the wearing of masks (whatever the executive order is at the time).

  • Masks include non-medical grade disposable face masks, cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth), or full-face shields to protect eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Schools must require students, teachers, staff, and visitors to wear masks or face shields when entering and exiting facilities and practice areas and when not actively engaging in some UIL activities and extracurricular activities.
  • Schools may, for example, allow students who are actively exercising to remove masks or face shields, as long as they maintain at least six feet of distance from other students, teachers, and staff who are not wearing masks or face shields. However, schools must require students, teachers, and staff to wear masks or face shields as they arrange themselves in positions that will allow them to maintain safe distancing.

In the Classroom

In classroom spaces that allow it, students should sit six feet apart. If this is not possible, schools should plan for more frequent hand washing and/or hand sanitizing and should consider whether increased airflow from the outdoors is possible. It may be more preferable for students to gather outside, rather than inside, because of likely reduced risk of virus spread outdoors, especially for PE type classes.
 
Schools should consider:
  • staggering school start and end times
  • assigning students to entries to ensure even distribution of students entering/exiting at each door
  • providing guidance to students to enter one at a time and wait six feet apart outside the entrance
  • where appropriate, encouraging parents to remain outside during drop-off and pick-up
  • keeping students socially distanced during lunch times, be it having lunch in the classrooms or the use of dividers
  • individually plating meals with disposable food service items for students who do not bring their own lunch.

Buses and Transportation 

School systems should consider requiring students and staff to use hand sanitizer upon boarding the bus. Bus drivers should open windows to allow outside air to circulate in the bus. School systems should encourage families to drop students off, carpool, or walk with their students to school to reduce possible virus exposure on buses.
 
Buses should be thoroughly cleaned after each bus trip, focusing on high-touch surfaces such as bus seats, steering wheels, knobs, and door handles.
 

Visitors

Parents and other adults can visit schools, as permitted by local school system policies. During these visits, parents and other visitors must follow virus prevention and mitigation requirements of the school. Visits should be restricted in schools to essential school operations and all visitors should be screened before entering. 
 
TEA has also released their STAAR Testing Calendar for the 2020-2021 School Year

You can read the full document here, including details for teachers and staff members and UIL/non-UIL sports and extracurricular activities. 


Need more quarantine resources? Check out Houston Moms’ Ultimate Guide to Quarantine Resources! 

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