Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced April 17 that all schools will remain closed through the remainder of the school year amid the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The team of doctors advising us determined it would be unsafe to allow students to gather in schools for the foreseeable future,” Abbott said in a press conference. “That includes all public, private and higher education institutions.”
Abbott said teachers will be allowed in their classrooms to do video instruction or to gather materials and other things needed to perform their duties. He said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath will provide more guidance about how districts should finish the year and conduct graduation ceremonies.
TEA released the following statement from Commissioner Morath:
“Following on Governor Abbott’s Executive Order on schools issued this afternoon, it is important to note that while the Governor’s decision continues the closure of school buildings for in-person classroom attendance for the duration of the 2019-20 school year, it in no way ends at-home instructional support for Texas’s millions of students.
“School districts across Texas have worked diligently to make the transition to virtual learning. Students must continue to receive daily academic support from their teachers and schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.
“Thank you to our superintendents, principals, and teachers for their leadership in ensuring that academic progress continues during this unprecedented public health crisis. We fully support your efforts.”
The University Interscholastic League followed up on Abbott's decision to keep schools closed by canceling all remaining spring activities and championships.
“Our staff had been working hard on plans to resume activities this spring, but without schools in session, interscholastic activities cannot continue,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “Our highest priority during this challenging time is ensuring the health and safety of our students and communities and making progress in the containment of COVID-19 in Texas. We are now turning our attention to the 2020-21 school year.”
The latest information about school closures came as Abbott also announced creation of a task force to lead the state's plans to restart the economy and reopen businesses.
"Texans are battling a colossal challenge—an invisible enemy that has tested our lives and our livelihoods—but overcoming challenges is part of who we are as Texans," Abbott said. "We have shown that Texas can continue our efforts to contain COVID-19 while also adopting safe standards that will allow us to begin the process of reopening Texas. The Strike Force to Open Texas brings together nationally recognized medical experts with public and private sector leaders to achieve this mission. By coming together, we can get Texans back to work, practice safe standards that will prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we can overcome this pandemic."