Remote / Virtual Learning & Attendance FAQs | TCTA
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Remote / Virtual Learning & Attendance FAQs

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This page was updated on Jan. 20, 2022.

Are there virtual learning options available to school districts?

Yes. In its Remote Instruction document (updated 9/29/21), 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 passed Senate Bill 15 that went into effect on Sept. 9, which provides state funding for full-time virtual education. 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 did not perform satisfactorily with Did not meet grade level or did not take the STAAR assessment, or if they have excessive daily 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. Districts’ asynchronous plans must be publicly posted on their website.

Senate bill 15 includes protections and requirements for teachers:

  • must complete a professional development course on virtual instruction to provide instruction under the program;
  • may not be coerced to agree to an assignment to teach in a full-time remote program (Generally, a way to prove that teachers have not been coerced to teach in a full-time remote learning position is to ensure that they have been given the option to opt out of teaching in such a position. In order to receive retroactive funding for remote instruction under SB 15, districts must provide teachers assigned to teach in a full-time remote learning position an option to be reassigned to on-campus instruction before the end of the fall 2021 semester);
  • cannot provide both virtual instruction and in-person instruction for a course during the same class period. TEA Commissioner may waive this prohibition for courses in the enrichment curriculum.

More information on the virtual program made available by SB 15 is available in TEA’s To Be Proposed Local Remote SAAH Rules and Senate Bill 15 FAQ documents.

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

  • student’s temporary medical condition must be documented by a licensed physician and include a statement that the student is to remain confined to their home or to a hospital.
  • student has a positive test result for a communicable condition listed in 25 TAC §97.7.
  • student has been identified as having been in close contact with COVID-19.

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, but will only be granted in rare and specific circumstances, including:

  • Students who are in close contact or test positive multiple times over the course of the school year for an approved medical condition under the remote conferencing rules, such that more than 20 instructional days of remote conferencing might be required,
  • Students who meet this definition of “medically fragile”, and
  • Students receiving pregnancy related services with documentation from a licensed medical practitioner stating a medical necessity for confinement during the pregnancy prenatal or postpartum period.

Will TEA be granting missed school day waivers if my schools are closed for on-campus
instruction due to COVID-19?

Per TEA’s COVID-19 Waivers document, the agency has no plans to issue missed school day waivers due to COVID-19 during the 2021-22 school year to LEAs when the district or campuses are closed. LEAs should plan to make up time for school closures during the school year and may need to add additional instructional
days and/or minutes to their calendar to meet the 75,600 operational minute requirement.

Will TEA be granting low attendance waivers if my schools or district experienced low
attendance due to COVID-19?

Per TEA’s COVID-19 Waivers document, low attendance waivers due to COVID-19 will not be granted for the first six-week reporting period of the 2021-22 school year. However, because LEAs have reported to TEA that
attendance rates have declined due to COVID-19, the agency is implementing an adjustment to
operational minutes to address attendance issues caused by COVID-19 during this time period (read more here). The adjustment ensures stabilized percentage attendance rates comparable to a more typical school year for each school district or open-enrollment charter school. A school district or open-enrollment charter school will receive the greater of their actual percentage attendance rate earned for this six-week attendance reporting period, or funding based on the target percentage attendance rates resulting from this adjustment.

Jan. 13, 2022, update: LEAs have reported to TEA that attendance rate declines continue to occur due to COVID during the spring semester. As a result, the agency is exploring options to ensure school systems will not experience significant financial difficulties and the agency has temporarily closed the low attendance waiver. Please expect more on this at a future date.

Return to the COVID-19 main page