THANK YOU for the tremendous efforts each of you have put in to protect the health and safety of students and your community. We know you have made great sacrifices of time and your personal safety and comfort to ensure that needs are met in your community. You have had to make difficult decisions with limited information, and there are still many more to make. We applaud and appreciate each and every one of you.

This message is intended to highlight a few resources and provide a few reminders during this trying time.
We are not going to bombard you with information on these topics because we know you are being hit from all sides. So this is just a reminder that TEA is regularly updating their Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Guidance, so keep checking there in addition to their regular conference calls.  

Also, the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) has an excellent resource page: Resources & Information Related to COVID-19

Personnel Issues
We know districts want to ensure that all district employees are paid, regardless of school closures. Salaried exempt personnel are paid according to their contracts, but paying non-exempt hourly employees is a little more complicated. Each district must make some local decisions as to how to proceed and the board of trustees should adopt a resolution in an open meeting (preferably a virtual open meeting, which are now allowed) to specifically state those decisions. The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) has guidance available on this topic, including a sample resolution you can use for this purpose.

Speaking of conducting school board meetings virtually/remotely, if you need more info on that, please see the guidance provided the Office of the Attorney General on that topic.
Meals for students
In order to ensure that students and families that rely on meals provided by the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program don't go hungry, many of you are providing grab and go locations or home delivery of meals for students. To ensure you are able to receive reimbursement for those meals, please ensure that you are following Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) guidelines, such as those spelled out in this communication from Assistant Commissioner Angela Olige.

You can also listen to the call that TDA conducted earlier today to discuss the latest information and answer questions (the call begins 10 minutes into the recording). On the call, Ms. Olige touched upon topics such as whether a child must be present when the meal (or meals) is provided--right now, each child must be present unless a process is used whereby the parent provides identification and their child or children's enrollment is documented. She also spoke to whether multiple meals can be provided--yes, two meals or one meal and one snack per day per child can be provided at one time for multiple days (such as 5 or 7, depending on your district's decisions and application).

Also, TEA announced today a new online tool called Texas Meal Finder for parents to locate school facilities serving meals which will be available starting on Friday. TEA is asking school districts to complete an application so that such data may be shared on the map TEA will make available.

Document everything
This probably goes without saying, but during this time of uncertainty, your districts must document everything you do and every expense that may be reimbursed. Those of you that have gone through emergencies and had disaster declarations in your community know how important that documentation can be. There are still some questions about what will and will not be reimbursed, and things that are not documented will surely fall off the list. Documentation may not seem as big of a priority now, but it will be long-term.

This health crisis is going to have long-term effects and carry long-term costs, so even in the immediate nature of your work right now, please be thinking about and preparing for what is to come in 2021 and beyond.
May 2 Elections may be postponed
This morning, Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation that suspends necessary laws to allow political subdivisions to postpone the local elections set for May 2, 2020 until November 3, 2020. If your district was scheduled to conduct an election in May, you can read more about that topic here and see this guidance from the Texas Attorney General regarding the action required by a governing body to move an election date.

Staying connected
Finally, as you are making plans and exploring options for how to provide remote instruction or conduct virtual open meetings, there are some cost savings resources out there.

The Texas Cable Association has provided information about the steps their members are taking to help during this crisis, and in some cases that includes free broadband access to households with public school students (for the provision of online instruction).

At least two providers (and there may be more) are providing free video conferencing services. Lifesize is offering free unlimited group video conferencing for up to six months. And Zoom is lifting the restrictions of their free basic service for K-12 schools during this time.
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