TALAS E-newsletter – March 26

Posted on March 26th, 2020
TALAS members support one another! Join today!
The strength of TALAS is the network. If you have been recently promoted let us know so that we can share the good news. Share with your colleagues the great work happening in your districts via the newsletter. Send emails to talasnews@gmail.com
TALAS Superintendents – Links to their respective pages regarding COVID-19 or Online Learning
Austin ISD Learning At-Home
El Paso ISD EPISD At Home
Fabens ISD In Home Learning
Ft. Worth ISD Learning At Home
Garland ISD At Home Learning
Houston ISD HISD @ H.O.M.E.
Hutto ISD Learn @ Home
Tomball ISD Remote Learning Plan
More school districts announce closures
Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner announced Tuesday, March 24, that the district’s schools will remain closed, with students working from home, until further notice. The decision was made in alignment with the City of Fort Worth’s Disaster Restrictions, which are in place through May 15.

According to the district’s website, it is also canceling all activities through that time frame, including travel for adults and students, athletic events, UIL competitions and athletic strength conditioning sessions.

Elsewhere, less than a day after Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff ordered San Antonio residents to stay home through April 9, school districts including Alamo Heights, Harlandale, Northside, San Antonio, and South San Antonio, on Tuesday extended campus closures through April 24. El Paso area schools are also adhering to “stay home, say safe” orders to remain closed indefinitely.

Sources: Fort Worth Star-Telegram CBS DFW The Rivard Report El Paso Times
TELPAS Activities
2020 TELPAS Paper Administration Materials Due to the school closings related to COVID-19, the TELPAS administration window is extended to May 29, 2020. If you were approved to administer a TELPAS reading paper test, the new deadline to return nonscorable materials is June 5, 2020.
The process for returning nonscorable materials for TELPAS paper administrations will not change. Districts should follow the return instructions in the 2020 TELPAS Supplement for Paper.

For questions and assistance regarding the information in this communication, as well as requests for additional return labels for STAAR Alternate 2, contact the Customer Service Center using the live chat feature, the Pearson Customer Support Form, or by calling 800-627- 0225.
Information regarding Capital Construction and Maintenance Projects
I recognize that there have been and may be additional shelter in place orders for various cities and counties throughout the state of Texas. Questions have arisen as to how such orders will impact ongoing bond and other capital construction and necessary maintenance projects for public education entities. It appears that orders issued thus far contain exemption language similar to the following:

Essential Critical Infrastructure. Work necessary to the operations and maintenance of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors as identified by the National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) including public works construction . . .

Please note that, according to the Department of Homeland Security CISA website, the Education Facilities subsector falls under the “Government Facilities Sector,” which is one of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors. Under such “shelter in place” order language, you are not required to suspend your ongoing facilities projects or maintenance projects/services. In other words, shelter in place orders that include similar exemption language ARE NOT STOP WORK ORDERS to your contractors (unless, of course, your entity chooses on its own to stop or suspend work). Under most standard construction and independent contractor agreements, it is the responsibility of contractors and subcontractors (and not the project owner) to implement health and safety measures necessary to protect their own employees, including screening.  

Please feel free to share this with information with others, and let me know if you have any questions.


Rogers, Morris & Grover, L.L.P.
Houston, Texas 77057
Main: 713-960-6000
Website: www.rmgllp.com
Links to Mental Health Resources for your students
Mental health experts provide videos and educational resources to help families talk about COVID-19 and staying safe during the outbreak

Below are a variety of educational resources to help families talk about COVID-19 with students of all ages. These videos, guides and online tools are appropriate for students from early childhood to teens and explain the virus, how it spreads, how to practice safe habits to prevent catching and spreading it, and how to avoid handle anxious feelings during the outbreak.

Helping younger students understand the reason school is closed and why they have to stay home, wash their hands and keep their distance to stay safe from the Coronavirus can be a challenge. A video, titled “The Yucky Bug” by Julia Cook is a short video that explains the coronavirus from a child’s point of view. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZD9KNhmOCV4&fbclid=IwAR1kwR2SQ8RLpd6n6QQtY9MX5MNjZcpUa-ig1d0Zzk8IsOB7YKRqCRbX9u4

This doctors’ rap song with music and animation produced by Fox 5 in DC shows kids how to stay safe from the coronavirus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DI0NhJrXTI&fbclid=IwAR1TlFGHrvx7zlnIbaS6CH4X2i5eUzxaFL8hSS3ncwJt-bTmW6tQctDavQ8

KERA-TV has created a page of parent resources to help them talk to younger kids about the coronavirus and what to do to stay safe and avoid spreading it to others. Find the resource at https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-coronavirus?fbclid=IwAR2eljF85_UhXXEtcsdB9RqtopbxFX6yPDDmeHMEddPgklkLize2IzgF0C4

Parents looking for help to explain COVID-19 to students fourth grade and up can get tips from this YouTube video featuring a University of Chicago doctor talking about prevention, social distancing and how to prevent spreading the virus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vevlVLJk72w

A Brainpop animation explains the dangers of the Coronavirus, how viruses spread, social distancing and hand washing and how children can get good information and avoid anxiety.   https://www.brainpop.com/health/diseasesinjuriesandconditions/coronavirus/?fbclid=IwAR0nHcjCN8vZMQBkXaUhswE1qq2I-8SRYxvl10OfPWhdPUDumkEtFPkosFc

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – a national mental health advocacy organization – offers a variety of services for people with mental illnesses. This link to the NAMI webpage has information about its online support group, suicide prevention hotline, training and other treatment resources. https://namitexas.org/online-support-groups
Leaders Needed

TEA – Various positions
  • Data Compliance Analyst (Systems Analyst V)
  • Reading Academies Communications Manager (Education Specialist V)
  • Reading Academies Project Manager (Project Manager IV)
  • TEAL Senior Developer (Programmer IV)
  • TCDD Public Policy Analyst (Program Specialist IV)
  • Education Specialist III
Your Source for Opportunities
Texas Association of School Administrators TASA Career Center
Hazard, Young, Attea Associates https://hyasearch.com/browse-jobs /

Support for TALAS Members
Free access to SEL resources through the end of the school year
reThinkEd, in their commitment to support districts impacted by schools closures, is offering free access to their SEL platform through the end of the school year. In addition they have released an  SEL toolkit  that anyone can access, it will be updated frequently. Please note, only district administrators can request access for their schools. 
Some additional supports:

As we continue to monitor the impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) is having on our schools, students and parents reThinkEd asked two of their experts to put together short webinars addressing stress that this uncertainty can cause.

Steven Tobias, Psy.D
Director of the Center for Child & Family Development

Blaise Aguirre, MD
Medical Director at McLean Hospital
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry/Harvard Medical School

These have been added to the SEL toolkit.

For more information, please contact;
Diana Frezza
Senior Vice President
m: 845-587-1523
Working Remotely
A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers
In response to the uncertainties presented by Covid-19, many companies and universities have asked their employees to work remotely. While close to a quarter of the U.S. workforce already works from home at least part of the time, the new policies leave many employees — and their managers — working out of the office and separated from each other for the first time.

Although it is always preferable to establish clear remote-work policies and training in advance, in times of crisis or other rapidly changing circumstances, this level of preparation may not be feasible. Fortunately, there are specific, research-based steps that managers can take without great effort to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees, even when there is little time to prepare.

Common Challenges of Remote Work
To start, managers need to understand factors that can make remote work especially demanding. Otherwise high-performing employees may experience declines in job performance and engagement when they begin working remotely, especially in the absence of preparation and training. Challenges inherent in remote work include:

National News
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Guidance
The Disparate Impact Of School Closures: Measuring The Unequal Educational Costs Of The Coronavirus Pandemic
Last week, Kansas became the first state in the country to announce statewide  school closures for the remainder of the school year  in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday, Virginia joined Kansas in shutting down schools  for the rest of the academic year . With California  leaning towards a similar decision  and  all but 4 states  closing schools statewide for at least a couple of weeks, an important question must be asked: is there an unequal cost to school closures?

Virginia and Kansas are  ranked #7 and #15 by the U.S. News & World Report’s  list of top states for education for objectively clear reasons.  Virginia’s 2019 state exam results  show that around 80% of students pass reading, writing, and math.  Kansas is not too far behind , with 72% of Kansas students performing at or above on grade level for math, and 71% are on grade level for English language arts.

A closer look at these numbers, however, tells a different story. Analyzing diverse subgroups of each state reveals that  in Kansas , Only 50% of Kansas’ African American students are at or above grade level in both math and reading. For Hispanic students, only 40% of Hispanic students reach this level in math while 43% do in reading. Kansas’ students in poverty similarly hover around 40% in both areas. In Kansas largest cities, at least 85% of students are below grade level in math.

TALAS is recruiting both mentors and proteges
Despite the growing diversity of its population, the ethnic composition of state and local educational leadership administration systems has remained virtually unchanged over the last few decades.

For Latino and Latina leaders, access to information, visibility, and prospects to develop and grow as professionals are examples of opportunity dimensions that are not sufficiently available to them even to this day. For this reason, TALAS established the Latino and Latina mentoring program in Texas.


Participation is voluntary
Minimum two-year commitment
Mentors and protégés are expected to make a minimum of two contacts per month. Contacts may be in person and/or by telephone, Skype, Jigsaw, or email.

Mentors must commit to a minimum of one meeting with the entire cohort during a one-year period. All meetings will coincide with TASA’s scheduled conferences (TASA/TASB Convention, TASA Midwinter Conference, and UT/TASA Summer Conference on Education).

Note: The mentoring program is open to TALAS members only. If you would like to join, please visit Join TALAS on our website.

Mil gracias to our sponsors for their on-going support of TALAS!
Enabling Remote Learning for Every Student
For 20 years, Achieve3000 has been a trusted partner, and now is no different. We are proud to expand access to our proven digital solutions to power your remote learning plans for all schools and all students.

Las Tienditas

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