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