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Texas News
New EPISD superintendent sees her return to the border as a continuation of her father’s legacy
Diana Sayavedra had a front row seat to the challenges of running a large school system, particularly one in the public eye.

In the late 1980s, she watched as her father, then president of Laredo State University, faced mounting pressure from city and business leaders for the school to join the University of Texas System.

Dallas ISD extends mask mandate, Lancaster ISD students to learn remotely due to omicron variant
As schools return from break this week some are making changes to deal with the latest COVID-19 surge.

Classes resume Wednesday in the Dallas Independent School District and it is extending its mask mandate for students through the spring break. The requirement was set to end after the MLK Day holiday.

Dallas ISD also announced those who come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19 no longer have to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated and don’t have any symptoms. The district’s nurses are available to test students and staff as COVID-19 cases rise.

‘Our context is working for us’: The North Texas districts requiring masks, online learning are predominately low-income, Black and Hispanic
In late November 2021, the CDC reported communities of color were likely to die or be hospitalized because of the virus.

When Dallas Independent School District students return to the classroom Wednesday, they will still be required to wear masks. They’ll be required to wear them until at least mid-March.  

“Based upon the data review and consultation with the health professionals, we decided that was in the best interest of the district,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa.  

Texas schools rethink gender-based dress code policies after discrimination claims raise new legal issues
Recent high-profile incidents and lawsuits have led some districts to make their dress code policies more gender- and race-neutral.

Hope Cozart was perplexed when she received a letter from her son Maddox’s school in April telling her he needed to cut his hair because it was too long. Even so, she obliged: She took Maddox to get a haircut, which consisted of shaved sides with a little more hair left at the top. Cozart would braid or plait her son’s hair to keep it out of his face.

Pandemic Without Borders
Laredo Health Authority Victor Treviño’s regional vaccination program has helped innoculate more than 60,000 Mexican residents.

An oxidized bronze statue of Tomás Sánchez, the founder of the bi-national metropolis Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, gazed upon the Presidencia Municipal on a warm sunny day in mid-December. Inside the building, Dr. Victor Treviño, one of Sánchez’s 10th-generation descendants and Laredo’s Health Authority, accepted the key to the city of Nuevo Laredo from Mayor Carmen Lilia Conturosas for his efforts to obtain and distribute free COVID-19 vaccines for its residents. The recognition was bittersweet for Dr. Treviño.

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National News
Chicago cancels classes after union backs remote learning
Leaders of Chicago Public Schools canceled classes Wednesday after the teachers union voted to switch to remote learning due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, the latest development in an escalating battle over pandemic safety protocols in the nation’s third-largest school district.

Chicago has rejected a districtwide return to remote instruction, saying it was disastrous for children’s learning and mental health. But the union argued the district’s safety protocols are lacking and both teachers and students are vulnerable.

Advocates fear suspensions could add to pandemic pain for vulnerable students
Administrators say they’re navigating difficult choices about school safety and student discipline in a year when children are reeling and acting out.

The list of challenges facing school administrators as they head into the new year is long and daunting: crippling staff shortages, nasty battles over mask-wearing, deep academic deficits, terrifying sickness and disruptive quarantines. 

Black Parents Push Back Against Right-wing Attacks on ‘Critical Race Theory’
Danielle Atkinson recalls being outraged after learning about an incident that took place five years ago at Royal Oak Middle School located in suburban Detroit.  

It occurred the day after former President Donald Trump’s win in November 2016. A group of Latino children were eating when white students began chanting at them, “Build the wall,” a popular anti-immigrant Trump slogan.

How schools that kept Covid cases low are battling new variants
We tracked five school communities that kept the pandemic mostly at bay and are now scrambling to protect kids and keep them learning as new Covid variants surge

Scott County School District 1 in Austin, Indiana reopened for the fall semester with optional face masks, less distancing in classrooms and no remote option.

District leaders quickly realized they had relaxed the Covid safety rules too soon.

How can school leaders improve instructional observation?
In the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, school leadership roles were trending toward a greater focus on instructional leadership, including coaching. Research by New America, a Washington-based think tank, shows 26 states include “instructional leadership” as a standard for principals, but principals are often still responsible for other tasks.

To provide effective instructional leadership, principals need clarity and a roadmap for their evolving role. They also need more time. According to an October 2020 article from the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, research suggests principals spend less than 12% of their day on instructional activities.

Las Tienditas
This Week’s Featured Sponsor
TALAS sponsors make this newsletter and other TALAS activities possible. Please support them. Click on the logo to learn more!
Securly is the end-to-end student safety and device management platform for K–12. Our 360º approach touches every aspect of the learning experience—from filtering to device management to self-harm detection.

  • In schools, IT administrators get simple implementation and a single dashboard to manage their networks and 1:1 devices.
  • Educators get tools to keep students productive and on-task in the classroom.
  • Counselors get insight into the mental health of their students.
  • Superintendents get data to make better decisions for the future of their districts.
  • And at home, parents get control and peace of mind—with full visibility into their childrens’ activities on school-issued devices.

We are a team of parents, educators, and technologists. We recognize the challenges IT administrators and educators face each day. By empowering those who serve students, we can foster safe and focused learning environments, while keeping students healthy and engaged.

Always connected, always protected.