TALAS E-newsletter – July 30

Posted on July 30th, 2020
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Texas News
San Antonio School Districts Weigh Legal Action Over State’s Latest Reopening Rules
For weeks, Texas school districts have been buffeted by changing state guidelines on reopening schools, pushback from teachers and families, and fluctuating local coronavirus conditions.

School districts have tried to adjust as required, but after yet another abrupt shift Tuesday, some district leaders have snapped instead of bending.

Just weeks ago, the Texas Education Agency assured districts they would be funded fully if a local health order forced them to close campuses and move instruction entirely online. But when Attorney General Ken Paxton issued nonbinding guidance Tuesday morning that stated local health authorities don’t have the power to levy blanket closure orders, the TEA responded hours later by stating that districts wouldn’t get funding for going fully remote under these sweeping orders.

Reentry Plans for 2020-21
Ysleta ISD video gives glimpse of what return to school might look like amid coronavirus

A video by the Ysleta Independent School District that gives the first glimpse of what school might look like when students return to class this fall is going viral.  

The video is part of the district’s new Back to School Central feature on its district website, designed to be a one-stop shop for parents as they consider their children’s learning options.

The video, with more than 29,000 views, features students getting their temperatures checked before they enter the school, walking in hallways 6 feet apart, and eating at desks with trifold desk dividers. It also shows buses getting sanitized.

Teachers in Dallas’ Hardest-Hit Zip Codes Speak Out About Reopening Schools

In the weeks and days before the Dallas Independent School District made its decision about restarting the school year as COVID case surged in Texas, public comments in virtual town halls and school board meetings trended toward caution about an in-classroom start.

But in call after call, another trend emerged.

“I teach in Oak Cliff.”

“I teach in the 75211 zip code.”

Oak Cliff teachers’ calls consistently stood out in both their collective participation as well as their impassioned comments. Their schools are located in some of Dallas’ hardest-hit zip codes, including 75211, where COVID rates have been two and three times higher than most of Dallas County’s other zips codes.

Thousands of Austin ISD laptops are unaccounted for as a new school year approaches
As the school year approaches — one that will begin with students learning at home — a new concern is rising.

The Austin Independent School District estimates between two and four-thousand Chromebook laptops are unaccounted for.

According to the district, this isn’t uncommon at the end of the summer. The majority of these laptops belong to seniors and students who are no longer in the district.

Then a pandemic happened.

Fort Worth ISD says it has not decided whether to open with online or in-person classes
Fort Worth school officials have not yet decided if they will stick with online-only classes for the first six weeks or allow in-person classes in mid-August, Superintendent Kent P. Scribner said at a virtual town hall Tuesday.

School officials must decide what to do after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said public health authorities may not close schools “for the sole purpose of preventing future COVID-19 infections.” Tarrant County’s health officials had ordered the first six weeks of school to be online only because of rising coronavirus cases in the county.

The goal with the order was to keep students at home until several weeks after the Labor Day holiday to avoid a potential spike in cases that could spread through schools.

Some North Texas school districts plan to challenge county orders, start athletics sooner after AG Ken Paxton’s letter
At least three North Texas school districts plan to challenge local health orders by conducting athletic activities earlier than told by county officials.

Sunnyvale ISD, a Class 4A school in east Dallas County, will begin athletic activities Monday — over a month sooner than county orders allow, according to football coach and athletic director John Settle.

Both Tarrant County and Dallas County issued postponements of in-person learning — and therefore extracurricular activities — earlier this month, but a Tuesday guidance letter penned by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said school districts, not local health authorities, should decide when they would open their doors.

New Opportunities
  • Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction
  • Executive Director of Communications & Public Relations
  • Executive Director of Special Education
COVID-10 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool
COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool
This site provides interactive context to assess the risk that one or more individuals infected with COVID-19 are present in an event of various sizes. The model is simple, intentionally so, and provided some context for the rationale to halt large gatherings in early-mid March and newly relevant context for considering when and how to re-open. Precisely because of under-testing and the risk of exposure and infection, these risk calculations provide further support for the ongoing need for social distancing and protective measures. Such precautions are still needed even in small events, given the large number of circulating cases.

National News
House approves bill to create Latino museum on National Mall
The House has passed a bill to establish a Smithsonian museum for American Latinos that would showcase Latino history, art and culture.

The bill was approved Monday by a voice vote and now goes to the Senate, where it has bipartisan support.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus hailed the bill’s passage, noting that a museum honoring Latinos has been under consideration for more than 15 years.

“The Latino story is an American story, and our history is a central thread in the history of our nation,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, the group’s chairman.

The VOCES series returns this Fall with two new documentaries about Latino lives in the U.S.
The Latino community has been part of the civil rights struggle in the United States since its very beginning; however, 2020 has been a year full of challenges for Latinos in the U.S. that will end at the polls. That’s why it’s more necessary than ever to make the history and lives of Hispanic people — and their diversity — visible in the country.

That’s the goal that led Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) to announce two new documentaries in the series VOCES, which explores Latino lives, and will premiere this fall on PBS as a hymn to democracy and its community leaders, and a warning that there is still much to do in the fight for the rights of Hispanics. 

The first of these, which will premiere on September 15, is Building the American Dream, by filmmaker Chelsea Hernandez, which focuses on the situation of immigrant construction workers in Texas and their demands for justice in an industry marked by exploitation.

Communities Need Accurate Count of Children to Meet Need for More Schools, Educational Resources
In counties and cities across the country where the population is growing quickly, demand for new schools and educational resources is growing, too.

Take, for instance, the 27J School District outside Denver.

The combined population of three counties in the district has jumped by 30% since the 2010 Census – the last nationwide count – and was swelling so fast that the district in 2015 began issuing bonds to construct new schools.

Results from the 2020 Census are important to school districts across the country – whether fast growing or not – because they provide a baseline for the next 10 years of school planning.

Black census logo with census red tagline
Last spring, three new schools were under construction, and middle- and high-school students there were sharing the newly opened Riverdale Ridge High School for the first half of the school year.

Learn more about a
personalized learning platform
IXL is a K-12 personalized learning platform used by 10 million students in the US, including nearly 800,000 in Texas. It combines a TEKS-aligned K-12 curriculum, a Real-Time Diagnostic, personalized guidance, and actionable analytics to give teachers and schools everything they need to personalize instruction and help students progress faster. ICL is an approved blended learning program for the Math Innovation Zones initiative and Blended Learning Grant Program.

IXL is easily accessible from school and at home and can be used to support any learning formate for this unique back-to-school season. Teachers can get students caught up quickly this fall with the Real-Time Diagnostic, which pinpoints knowledge levels in 45 minutes and generates personalized action plans to help each learner close gaps. And, with custom-built skill plans for the TEKS, MWEA MAP assessments, and popular textbooks such as Texas GO Math! and Lucy Caulkins Units of Study, IXL takes the guesswork out of finding the perfect IXL content to support teachers’ daily instruction.

For more information, visit ixl.com/membership/administrators or contact orders@ixl.com!
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