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    Texas Executive Orders & Public Health Disaster Declaration

    On March 31, 2020, Gov. Abbott issued an Executive Order implementing Essential Services and Activities Protocols. The protocols renew the Governor's directive to avoid eating or drinking inside at bars, restaurants, and food courts, although use of drive-thru, pickup, and delivery for food is highly encouraged. The order prohibits visiting gyms or massage establishments, and expands to include tattoo studios, piercing studios, and cosmetology salons. It also extends social distancing measures to April 30, 2020, and schools will remain closed to in-person classroom attendance through May 4, 2020.

    On March 30 and March 26, Gov. Abbott issued several self-quarantine edicts for travelers returning from certain locations within the United States. For complete details on which returning travelers are subject to these self-quarantine orders, see our Information for Travelers page. Instructions for self-quarantined travelers can be found on the CDC COVID-19 Traveler Information Card.

    On March 24, 2020, Gov. Abbott issued an Executive Order relating to daily reporting during the COVID-19 disaster. See the COVID-19 Texas Hospital Reporting Requirements found on the Information for Hospitals & Healthcare Professionals page of this site for more information.

    On March 19, 2020, Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner of Texas DSHS, declared a public health disaster in Texas, because COVID-19 “has created an immediate threat, poses a high risk of death to a large number of people, and creates a substantial risk of public exposure because of the disease’s method of transmission and evidence that there is community spread in Texas.”

    TEA Update: COVID-19 Initial Guidance and FAQs

    The Texas Education Agency (TEA) continues to work with the Office of the Governor, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to coordinate and plan the state’s response to COVID-19. Many of you have contacted us with questions specific to your school district preparedness and operation plans. This communication has been invaluable as TEA works to address the many issues you now face.

    As DSHS is the lead agency in the state’s preparedness efforts, school districts should be working closely with your local health authorities as you weigh operational decisions. You can find your local public health organization on the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) website.

    A note on when to decide to close your district or schools. DSHS provides a daily update on its website of confirmed cases of coronavirus. Please consult with your local health authority when making closure decisions.

    We recognize your immediate need is for information regarding how to best ensure the health of students, teachers and personnel on a day-to-day basis. In addition, you have asked for some guidance regarding strategies surrounding the spring break period in your district. To that end, this letter is intended to provide some initial guidance to you. More will come as we work through the issues you have already identified.

     

    • TEA COVID-19 Website – TEA has established a COVID-19 website as a central source for information to school districts. Additional resources will continue to be added on a regular basis. Please use this website as your initial source for information from TEA.
    • Initial Guidance – With this correspondence, we are releasing our initial guidance focused on several topics, including: district decision-making and communication; funding questions; potential attendance waivers; special populations, and online learning. Please note we recognize this is a rapidly changing situation at the state and local level. For that reason, the information presented is subject to change based on new information. We will update this guidance in the coming days.
    • Additional Guidance – Information related to additional questions that have been posed will be shared in the coming days. Guidance will be provided on an ongoing basis to address as many issues as we can.
    • Daily Superintendent Communication – In order to strengthen our communication channels, TEA will be launching a daily conference call with superintendents. This call establishes a daily avenue to share new information and help address concerns for your specific district. Superintendents will be provided with call-in information in a separate message sent via our TEA Superintendent list serve.
    • Email – Many superintendents have already utilized disasterinfo@tea.texas.gov to submit questions and concerns. Please continue using that email address for any immediate questions.

     

     


     

     

     


     

    COVID-19 (new coronavirus) – March 22, 2020

    The Texas Department of State Health Services is tracking cases of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. DSHS will update the state case count each day by noon Central Time. Numbers are current as of 8 p.m. the day before reporting.

    On March 19, 2020, Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, declared a public health disaster in Texas, because COVID-19 “has created an immediate threat, poses a high risk of death to a large number of people, and creates a substantial risk of public exposure because of the disease’s method of transmission and evidence that there is community spread in Texas.”

    COVID-19 in Texas - March 19, 2020

    Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, declared a public health disaster in Texas, because COVID-19 “has created an immediate threat, poses a high risk of death to a large number of people, and creates a substantial risk of public exposure because of the disease’s method of transmission and evidence that there is community spread in Texas.”

    Read the full text of the declaration.

    COVID-19 in Texas – March 11, 2020

    The Texas Department of State Health Services is reporting additional cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, bringing the state total to 21.

    DSHS will update the state case count each day by 10 a.m. Central Time.

    Public health departments are working to identify any close contacts of the patients while they were sick so they can be isolated and monitored for symptoms and quickly tested, if needed.

    DSHS, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, and other state agencies continue their ongoing preparations so that all of state government is working together to limit the spread of the virus and protect Texans. The immediate risk to most Texans remains low.

    COVID-19 in Texas – March 10, 2020

    The Texas Department of State Health Services is reporting one additional travel-related case of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, bringing the state total to 13. These cases are all related to travel to areas with known community spread of COVID-19 within the U.S. or abroad.

    DSHS will update the state case count each day by 10 a.m. Central Time.

    Public health departments are working to identify any close contacts of the patients while they were sick so they can be isolated and monitored for symptoms and quickly tested, if needed.

    DSHS, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, and other state agencies continue their ongoing preparations so that all of state government is working together to limit the spread of the virus and protect Texans. The immediate risk to most Texans remains low.

    COVID-19 in Texas – March 7, 2020

    The Texas Department of State Health Services is reporting three additional travel-related cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, bringing the state total to eight. These cases are among the same group that traveled overseas together and were being monitored by public health because of a possible exposure to COVID-19.

    DSHS will update the state case count each day by 10 a.m. Central Time.

    Public health departments are working to identify any close contacts of the patients while they were sick so they can be isolated and monitored for symptoms and quickly tested, if needed.

    DSHS, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, and other state agencies continue their ongoing preparations so that all of state government is working together to limit the spread of the virus and protect Texans. The immediate risk to most Texans remains low.

    COVID-19 in Texas – March 6, 2020

    The Texas Department of State Health Services is reporting four additional travel-related cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in Texas, bringing the state total to five. Harris County Public Health and the Houston Health Department announced four cases on Thursday, March 5 in residents of Harris County who had recently traveled abroad. The first Texas case was announced by Fort Bend County Health and Human Services on March 4. These cases are among a group that traveled overseas together and were being monitored by public health because of a possible exposure to COVID-19.

    Public health departments are working to identify any close contacts of the patients while they were sick so they can be isolated and monitored for symptoms and quickly tested, if needed.

    Travel-related cases in Texas don’t indicate spread within the state, but DSHS, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, and other state agencies continue their ongoing preparations so that all of state government is working together to limit the spread of the virus and protect Texans. The immediate risk to most Texans remains low.

    Current Situation: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak

    A novel (new) coronavirus was first detected in late December in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and is causing an outbreak of respiratory disease in countries around the world. On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization named the disease coronavirus disease 2019 (abbreviated “COVID-19”).

    Chinese health officials have reported tens of thousands of cases of COVID-19 in China, with the virus reportedly spreading from person-to-person in parts of that country. COVID-19 illnesses, most of them associated with travel from Wuhan, also are being reported in a growing number of international locations, including the United States. Some person-to-person spread of this virus outside China has been detected. The United States reported the first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread with this virus on January 30, 2020.

    for more information visit Texas Health and Human Services 

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    US Department of Education

    U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today the Department has released new information clarifying that federal law should not be used to prevent schools from offering distance learning opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities. This new resource from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) explains that as a school district takes necessary steps to address the health, safety, and well-being of all its students and staff, educators can use distance learning opportunities to serve all students.


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  • If local health officials report that there are cases of COVID-19 in the community, schools may need to take additional steps in response to prevent spread in the school. The first step for schools in this situation is to talk with local health officials. The guidance provided here is based on current knowledge of COVID-19. As additional information becomes available about the virus, how it spreads, and how severe it is, this guidance may be updated. Administrators are encouraged to work closely with local health officials to determine a course of action for their childcare programs or schools.

    Determine if, when, and for how long childcare programs or schools may need to be dismissed.

    Temporarily dismissing childcare programs and K-12 schools is a strategy to stop or slow the further spread of COVID-19 in communities. During school dismissals, childcare programs and schools may stay open for staff members (unless ill) while students stay home. Keeping facilities open a) allows teachers to develop and deliver lessons and materials remotely, thus maintaining continuity of teaching and learning; and b) allows other staff members to continue to provide services and help with additional response efforts.

    Childcare and school administrators should work in close collaboration and coordination with local health officials to make dismissal and large event cancellation decisions. Schools are not expected to make decisions about dismissal or canceling events on their own. Schools can seek specific guidance from local health officials to determine if, when, and for how long to take these steps. Large event cancellations or school dismissals may be recommended for 14 days, or possibly longer if advised by local health officials. The nature of these actions (e.g., geographic scope, duration) may change as the local outbreak situation evolves.

    If an ill student or staff member attended school prior to being confirmed as a COVID-19 case:

    Local health officials may recommend temporary school dismissals if a student or staff member attended school prior to being confirmed as a COVID-19 case. Local health officials’ recommendations for the scope (e.g., a single school, a full district) and duration of school dismissals will be made on a case-by-case basis based on the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and the specific cases in the impacted community.
    Schools should work with the local health department and other relevant leadership to communicate the possible COVID-19 exposure. This communication to the school community should align with the communication plan in the school’s emergency operations plan. In such a circumstance, it is critical to maintain confidentiality of the student or staff member as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
    If a student or staff member has been identified with COVID-19, school and program administrators should seek guidance from local health officials to determine when students and staff should return to schools and what additional steps are needed for the school community. In addition, students and staff who are well but are taking care of or share a home with someone with a case of COVID-19 should follow instructions from local health officials to determine when to return to school.
    If schools are dismissed, schools can consider the following steps:

    Temporarily cancel extracurricular group activities and large events.
    Cancel or postpone events such as after-school assemblies and pep rallies, field trips, and sporting events.
    Discourage students and staff from gathering or socializing anywhere.
    Discourage gatherings at places like a friend’s house, a favorite restaurant, or the local shopping mall.
    Ensure continuity of education.
    Review continuity plans, including plans for the continuity of teaching and learning. Implement e-learning plans, including digital and distance learning options as feasible and appropriate.
    Determine, in consultation with school district officials or other relevant state or local partners:
    If a waiver is needed for state requirements of a minimum number of in-person instructional hours or school days (seat time) as a condition for funding;
    How to convert face-to-face lessons into online lessons and how to train teachers to do so;
    How to triage technical issues if faced with limited IT support and staff;
    How to encourage appropriate adult supervision while children are using distance learning approaches; and
    How to deal with the potential lack of students’ access to computers and the Internet at home.
    Ensure continuity of meal programs.
    Consider ways to distribute food to students.
    If there is community spread of COVID-19, design strategies to avoid distribution in settings where people might gather in a group or crowd. Consider options such as “grab-and-go” bagged lunches or meal delivery.
    Consider alternatives for providing essential medical and social services for students.
    Continue providing necessary services for children with special healthcare needs, or work with the state Title V Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) Program.
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