(Pexels)

Even as new case counts for COVID-19 reach all-time highs around the state—5,000 today—the Texas Education Agency posted documents to its website Tuesday with safety suggestions, but few requirements, for what schools must do when they reopen this fall.


The documents, posted accidentally and then removed, include recommendations for mask-wearing, increasing the availability of hand sanitizer, and social distancing for in-person learning, but also provide flexibility for students who want to continue remote learning in the fall.

"These are draft documents. They were posted in the staging portion of the TEA website by mistake as part of an internal document review," the agency said in a statement to The Texas Tribune. "As we continue to closely monitor the public health situation, we are, in fact, still soliciting feedback on this guidance. No final decisions have yet been made. Additional guidance will be provided soon."

Documents wound up on TEA's website the same day state education leaders were expected to announce more detailed guidelines for what school will look like in the fall. Gov. Greg Abbott said last week that he expects in-person learning to resume. Despite suggesting that students and staff wear masks, the guidelines leave it up to the schools to decide whether to require this. AISD said last week that a mask requirement was under consideration.

One major change to the proposed rules regarding remote learning will be the requirement that schools regularly monitor engagement by students learning from home, the documents show. If students are not up to date on watching lessons or completing assignments, for example, the school risks losing funding. Schools typically receive funding from the state based on the number of students in class each day.

The guidelines say the state will require schools to offer in-person learning as an option to students. For those who do attend class, the documents say schools should require self-screening and temperature checks for COVID-19, and that school leaders should also screen students and employees once a week by asking if they have symptoms or come into contact with someone infected with the virus.

School districts will also be required to post detailed plans for how they plan to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus. However, the plans do not need to receive government approval, reducing the potential for oversight.

If a student comes to school showing symptoms, they must be isolated until they can be picked up by a parent or guardian and all areas they came into contact with must be cleaned.

(Laura Figi)

At the tail end of a tough year for retailers, Black Friday deals appeared to draw fewer shoppers into big box stores around Austin.

Keep Reading Show less
(Tito's Handmade Vodka)

Ingredients:

  • 750 mL Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • 1 1/2 cup toasted pecans
Directions: Toast pecans in a 350°F oven until they become aromatic (about 5 minutes). Let pecans cool, drop them into a resealable jar, and fill with Tito's Handmade Vodka. Store in a cool, dark place for 1 month, if you can wait that long.
(Nan Palmero/CC)

Thanksgiving is over and the most wonderful time of year has officially begun. Christmas light shows have been a Texas tradition for years—so beloved that not even a pandemic could stop them from shining this year.

Keep Reading Show less
(Texas Longhorns/Instagram)
Game Preview: Longhorns face off against #13 Cyclones

The Texas Longhorns take the field for the first time in two weeks after postponements and bye weeks, making them one of the most well rested teams in the conference.

Keep Reading Show less
(MangoNic/Shutterstock)

Before the pandemic started, Adult Care of Austin on Menchaca Road didn't offer telemedicine appointments.

Now, the private practice conducts almost all of its visits virtually, either over the phone or on HIPAA-compliant video platforms.

Dr. Steven Dobberfuhl, an internal medicine physician, said telemedicine saved his practice—and has been a boon to his patients, around 75% of whom are 65 years or older and at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

"I didn't believe it would work as well as it has," he said.

Keep Reading Show less

Austin will see "big weather changes" this weekend, with likely thunderstorms Friday morning and early Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Keep Reading Show less
(Pexels)

From pandemic-inspired poetry to a graphic novel based on a Mayan legend, this holiday season offers titles for every taste. Below is a list of books from local authors to add to your Black Friday shopping cart or wintertime to-read list.

Keep Reading Show less