This page was updated on Sept. 10, 2021.
Are there virtual learning options available to school districts?
Yes. In its Remote Instruction document, TEA outlines options available to districts and related funding options.
Some districts are using federal funds or reserve balances to pay for full-time virtual education. In addition, the legislature has passed and sent to the governor Senate Bill 15, which provides state funding for full-time virtual education. The bill will take effect immediately (once signed by Gov. Abbott). Specifically, SB 15 allows districts rated with a C or better to offer a local remote learning program for up to 10% of the district’s enrollment (more if a waiver is granted; also special education and 504 students do not count against the 10% cap). Students participating in such a program would count toward average daily attendance (ADA) for funding purposes (unless they participated in remote learning last year and failed the STAAR assessment or if they have excessive unexcused absences). ADA funding is available retroactively for students who have already been participating in a local remote learning program during the 2021-22 school year so long as the program meets the requirements of the bill. This program and funding will expire Sept. 1, 2023.
Senate bill 15 includes protections and requirements for teachers:
More information on the virtual program made available by SB 15 is available in TEA’s To Be Proposed Local Remote SAAH Rules document.
School districts may also provide hybrid learning for partial state funding. For example, students might attend Monday and Wednesday in person and the rest of the week would receive remote instruction. Under such an arrangement, the remote instruction portion of the student’s schedule would not be eligible for state funding nor count toward the instructional minutes requirement.
Additionally, school districts may temporarily offer remote conferencing for full funding for students who meet key criteria related to medical conditions. Specifically, a
Remote conferencing instruction must be provided synchronously, which means two-way, real-time/live virtual instruction between teachers and students. The instruction cannot be concurrent, which means remote students must not be taught by a teacher who is also teaching in-person students at the same time. The individual providing remote conferencing instruction must meet the certification requirements to teach the content area.
Remote conferencing is allowable for up to a maximum of 20 instructional days over the entirety of the school year. A waiver request must be submitted to TEA for an extension of remote conferencing beyond the allowable cumulative 20 instructional day period. The waiver request must include an explanation of the circumstances (for example, a student is medically fragile or a child was a close contact more than twice over the course of the year, and the family opted to follow the stay-at-home recommendations each time).
What if my school or district experiences low attendance due to COVID-19?
Per TEA’s COVID-19 Waivers document, districts or campuses can request a waiver for low attendance to excuse instructional days from ADA and FSP funding calculations that have attendance at least 10 percentage points below the last school year's overall average attendance due to inclement weather, health, or safety-related issues. TEA is exploring additional options to ensure school systems will not experience significant financial difficulties.