COVID-19

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Governor Abbott extends COVID-19 Disaster Declaration for all Texas counties

Dallas ISD Zoom Meeting Hacked, How to Keep Meetings Safe

If students are still at home this fall, what will happen to Friday night football?

Opinion Editorial by Dan Huberty Concerning Whether COVID-19 Will Affect the Education Funding Portion of the State Budget

Over the last several weeks, I’ve read a lot about the impact of the Coronavirus on the economy and our State budget....

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Changing School Start Dates for 2020-2021

Last week, TEA released guidelines on how to change the school calendar and start date amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

TEA announced school districts may start school prior to the fourth May in August (TEC Sec. 25.0811) through a District of Innovation Plan or a Year-Round System designation. The following PDF breaks down how schools districts could engage in this option.

Changing School Start Dates for 2020-2021 Guidelines

Adjusting Your School Calendar for COVID-19 Response

As the 2019-2020 school year begins to wind down, school districts are starting to look toward the 2020-2021 school year and what that will look like. In addition to the PDF on changing school start dates provided in the left...

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Gov. Abbott Expands Openings of Certain Businesses and Activities

Yesterday afternoon, Governor Abbott announced he was expanding the businesses and activities that could begin to reopen amid the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Along with the businesses that were re-opened last Friday, cosmetology salons, tanning salons, and swimming pools are allowed to re-open on Friday, May 8th. All must follow social distancing of six feet foot of distance. Pools may open at a 25% capacity.

Offices in office buildings and gyms may begin to re-open on May 18th at a 25% capacity.

Gov. Abbott's task force is still working on the best way to re-open bars.

COVID-19 Trends 05/05/2020

Today's COVID-19 Trends report compiled by Chris Tackett...

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Coining Terms like “COVID Slide” Does Not Change FAPE

Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke, educators have been introduced to new phrases, consepts, and applications of old terms in new ways. One example is the "COVID slide." Geneva Taylor explains what this means, and the best way for administrators and teachers to deal with this terminology.

Guidance for Graduation Ceremonies

At today's press conference with Governor Abbott, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath released guidance for districts to follow when holding graduation ceremonies during COVID-19.

So far, TEA has approved hybrid ceremonies where students come in one at a time, vehicle ceremonies, and outdoor ceremonies with appropriate distancing maintained.

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Graduation Ceremony Plans Checklist for Rural Schools

As discussed in the graduation webinar hosted by TREA on Tuesday, April 28, TEA has approved virtual graduation plans for school districts.

They are working on releasing in-person graduation guidelines soon. TREA has created a checklist to follow should the district choose to host an in-person graduation ceremony.

TEA Resources on Graduation

2020 Seniors Guidance and Graduation FAQ

Guidance on Individual Graduation Committees

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Stay at Home Order to Expire on April 30

In a press conference held this afternoon, Governor Abbott announced his Stay at Home order will be allowed to expire on April 30. He also announced two phases for reopening the Texas economy. The first phase starts May 1st and sets out new measures for how business can reopen, If there is no flare up for two weeks, phase two would begin May 18th. The first phase includes:

  • All retail stores (movie theaters, restaurants, and malls) as well as libraries and museums can reopen at a 25% capacity. Any interactive exhibits must remain closed.
  • Sole Proprietors can reopen.
  • Churches and places of worship may expand their capacity.
  • Outdoor sports with four or less people can resume.
  • All...
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Authority of a governmental body to regulate public comment sessions during open meetings

Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, has released an opinion interpreting the new OMA requirement allowing public comment on any item on an agenda.

In his opinon, AG Paxton states that public comment can be at one time during the meeting as long as comment is allowed before any action is taken by the Board. Reasonable restrictions, including time limits, are also allowed.

COVID-19 Trends as of 4/23

Today's COVID-19 Trends report is pulled from the numbers reported on April 23, 2020. There has been some overall flattening out, but Texas is still significantly behind in mass testing and continues to report new numbers daily. We did have two big spikes in...

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PYT's The School Zone Podcast

Part 1: A Conversation Between Diane Ravitch & Pastor Charlie Johnson

Join our host, David Torres, as he re-broadcasts a webinar hosted by the Network for Public Education.

Pastor Charlie Johnson chats with Diane Ravitch, author of her new book, "Slaying Goliath" regarding the threat that charter schools and vouchers pose to our system of public education.

Tune into to tomorrow's Ed Clips to catch the second half of the discussion!

TEA & Texas PBS announce educational programming collaboration

The new partnership calls for all 10 of Texas PBS affiliates to preempt regularly scheduled weekday programming with grade-level appropriate programming. This join initiative will air TEKS-aligned...

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TEA Resources Regarding School Closures

Guidance for 2020 Seniors

HB 3 College Preparation Assessment, Industry-Based Certification Reimbursement and AP/IB Testing

Optional End of Year Assessments

Every 10 years the federal government holds a Census Count to determine the number seats each state has in Congress and your political representation at state and local levels of government. The typical Census paper mailings have been delayed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and may not arrive at your home until the end of April.

Luckily, Texans can self-respond by filling out a quick and easy oneline questionnaire at www.my2020census.gov or by...

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Geneva's Guidance Webinar "Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean"

Join host, David Torres, as he re-broadcasts a webinar conducted by Geneva Taylor with her panel of special education directors: Piper Ayres (Evadale ISD), Craig Watson (Mt. Vernon ISD) and Jennifer Dunson (Tyler County Cooperative). Geneva and the panelists discuss how many rural school districts are handling special education from “brick and mortar” to “distance learning,” as well as, what are the next steps as we move forward in the months ahead.

Latest COVID-19 News and TEA Resources

School districts file for FEMA funds

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Abbott Announced New Executive Orders

In a press conference held at noon today, Governor Abbott announced all public and private schools (including college campuses) will remain closed to classroom teaching for the remainder 2019-2020 school year. Online teaching and learning will continue through the rest of the school year.

Abbott also established the Strike Force to Open Texas, composed of medical experts and private and public leaders who will advise the Governor on how to safely and strategically reopen Texas.

Check out the Strike Force to Open Texas website to learn more about who will be service on the task force.

Additional moves to slowly reopening the state post Abbott's new executive orders.

  • All State Parks will be reopened Monday, 4-20. Visitors must wear...
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PYT's The School Zone Podcast: Health, Safety, and Security during COVID-19

Join host, David Torres, as he broadcasts a webinar conducted by Bill Tarleton, Executive Director of Texas Rural Education Association and Blake Powell of Powell, Youngblood & Taylor, LLP with panelists including Dr. Roosevelt Nivens (Community ISD); Jason Marshall (Palestine ISD) and Brian Stroman (Bloomburg ISD).

As districts attempt to comply with local, state, and national orders, it is increasingly difficult to deliver meals, as well as instruction in a manner that is safe for all, including staff members. Instruction delivered physically (packets) has different challenges than remote instruction using technology. Panelists will also discuss the challenges and obstacles to being successful and sharing viable...

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Child Nutrition Program Meal Service During COVID-19 Q&A's

The United States Department of Agriculture recently took the time to answer the most pressing questions regarding the Child Nutrition Program Meal Service and its Nationwide Waivers during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please see below for the relevant question and answers PDF.

Child Nutrition Program Nationwide Waivers: Questions and Answers

Child Nutrition Program Meal Service during Novel Coronavirus Outbreaks: Questions and Answers

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COVID-19 Trends as of April 13

Today's COVID-19 Trends report is pulled from the numbers reported on April 13, 2020. There has been some overall flattening out, but Texas is still significantly behind in mass testing and continues to report new numbers daily.

Travis County has extended its shelter at home order through May 8th with the requirement to wear face masks in public, and both Dallas and Harris Counties have extended their shelter at home orders through the end of April.

COVID-19 Rural...

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Board Training During COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted school districts across the state in ways that seemed unimaginable a few weeks ago, but no matter the circumstances, school boards are still required to complete necessary training.

Governor Abbott has relaxed the requirements under the Open Meetings Act, allowing for school board members and superintendents to meet via live webinar.

The PYT team aims to be as accommodating as we can, so please reach out if you would like our attendance on your district's Zoom board meeting.

PYT's The School Zone Podcast: Communication with Leadership with Pastor Charlie Johnson

Join host, David Torres, as he sits down with Pastor Charlie Johnson to...

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Special Education Alternative Dispute Process Available Now

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted school districts across the state in ways that seemed unimaginable a few weeks ago, but no matter the circumstances, school districts remain obligated to provide a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to their students.

Trevor Hall talks about the importance of establishing a Special Education Alternative Dispute Resolution Process to ensure all students, including special education students, receive FAPE in the new world of online learning.

PYT's The School Zone Podcast: Special Education Guidance with Geneva Taylor & Trevor Hall

Join host, David Torres, as he broadcasts a webinar discussion conducted by special education attorneys Geneva Taylor and Trevor Hall discussing COVID-19 Closures and how to provide FAPE to special...

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Additional Student Privacy FAQs During COVID-19

PYT attorney, Jill Williams, answers the most asked questions regarding student privacy school districts are facing in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Grading Policies for Texas School Districts Webinar Recording

Resources from TEA and Latest COVID-19 News

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PYT School Zone Podcast

Postponement of May 2nd Elections

Join our host, David Torres, as he visits with Ryan Lione, Sr. Associate Counsel, regarding the cancellation or postponement of the May 2, 2020 election and how it will affect your school district's bond election matter.

Resources from TEA and Latest COVID-19 News

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COVID-19 Trends as of April 4

Chris Tackett is a public education advocate and executive with Coca-Cola Bottling. He regularly posts statistics concerning public education and has been posting COVID-19 statistics as they come in. Yesterday, he shared COVID-19 Trends as of April 4, 2020, and graciously permitted PYT to share this information with you! Big thanks to Mr. Tackett for allowing us to share these resources with our clients!

Postponement of May 2, 2020 Elections due to COVID-19

Texas Secretary of State informs elections officials that, in light of Governor Abbott’s Order on March 31, 2020, all May 2, 2020 elections must be moved to November 3, 2020.

PYT attorney, Ryan Lione, breaks down the executive order, and how school districts should respond.

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COVID-19 Trends as of April 2, 2020

Chris Tackett is a public education advocate and executive with Coca-Cola Bottling. He regularly posts statistics concerning public education and has been posting COVID-19 statistics as they come in. Yesterday, he shared COVID-19 Trends as of April 2, 2020, and graciously permitted PYT to share this information with you! Big thanks to Mr. Tackett for allowing us to share these resources with our clients!

Unwanted Guests - FBI Warns of Zoom Bombing

As more Americans rely on the virtual world for work, online classes, and to keep connected with loved ones amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Bureau of...

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Postponement of May 2, 2020 Elections due to COVID-19

Texas Secretary of State informs elections officials that, in light of Governor Abbott’s Order on March 31, 2020, all May 2, 2020 elections must be moved to November 3, 2020.

PYT is standing by and prepared to assist with the necessary agenda language and board resolutions to effect this postponement.

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PYT's The School Zone Podcast: Alternative Dispute Resolution with Trevor Hall

Join host, David Torres, as he discusses with Senior Associate counsel, Trevor Hall, the benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution in on matters within Texas public schools.

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Chris Tackett is a public education advocate and executive with Coca-Cola Bottling. He regularly posts statistics concerning public education and has been posting COVID-19 statistics as they come in. Yesterday, he shared COVID-19 Trends as of March 31, 2020, and graciously permitted PYT to share this information with you! Big thanks to Mr. Tackett for allowing us to share these resources with our clients!

COVID-19 Trends as of March 31, 2020

Resources from TEA and Latest COVID-19 News

· TEA has compiled Public Health Resources for districts to share with their students and staff via email and social media....

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PYT's The School Zone Podcast

"We are Here to Help" with Blake Powell

Join host, David Torres, as he sits down with Blake Powell to talk about how the firm has continued assisting clients through our legal service program during the COVID-19 crisis.

Resources from TEA and Latest COVID-19 News

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PYT's The School Zone Podcast

Geneva's Guidance with Geneva Taylor

Join host, David Torres, as he talks with Geneva Taylor about her experience, what led her to become an attorney specializing in special education law matters, and how she developed “Geneva’s Guidance.”

If you missed Wednesday or Friday's Webinar Sessions or any recent Geneva's Guidance Articles, please find a recording and the articles below. We hope you and your team find these resources beneficial!

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Great news! The Texas Department of Ag. has received a waiver that allows parents to pick up free school meals without their children present. We hope this change helps more families.

To find a meal distribution site near you, visit: txschools.gov

TEA Instructional Continuity Planning Framework

TEA has a web page filled with resources to help school districts and teachers with instructional continuity planning in the online learning world our schools now find themselves living. Check out the some of the resources they have available.

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PYT's The School Zone Podcast: Spirit & Motivation in Education with Blake Cooper

Join host, David Torres, as he chats with Blake Cooper, co-founder of Educators Christian Fellowship, to encourage and equip educators in dealing with the daily challenges of leading students in today's schools, colleges and universities.

Be sure to check out their website www.educf.org and see what they're all about.

Newest TEA and Online Learning Resources

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Getting FERPA-Smart in the Virtual Learning World

As many Texas schools are being rapidly compelled into the virtual learning world, school districts should consider providing professional development to teachers on how to protect student privacy in the video or virtual world. In today's Geneva's Guidance, Geneva Taylor talks through how to protect students' private information in this newfound technology based learning world.

A Deeper Dive into the Science of COVID-19

Shelly Leung, M.S. Immunology, breaks down the science involved with COVID-19, discusses the impact it will have on our healthcare system, what treatments are being developed to try and cure the disease, what we can do help mitigate the spread, and try and help educators and administrators understand the facts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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OMA Update: Traditional Board Meetings May be Held in Texas

Since Governor Abbott's executive order was announced last week there have been questions about the specificity of what does and does not qualify for the "no social gatherings more than 10 people" restriction. In this Ed Clips! article, Jill Williams talks about how this applies to school board meetings.

Resources from TEA and State Officials

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PYT School Zone

Motivation & Spirit in Education with Pastor Charlie Johnson

Join host, David Torres, as he chats with Pastor Charlie Johnson, Pastors for Texas Children, about the need to continue to motivate and bring spirit to the children, teachers and Administrators in Texas public education during the COVID-19 situation.

News from the Governor and TEA

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At Powell, Youngblood, & Taylor, the health and safety of our employees and visitors is our top priority. In order to ensure this priority, PYT is regularly disinfecting our office space and encouraging our employees to report any signs of illness. Currently, we are still in the office hard at work, so don't hesitate to give us a call at 512-494-1177 should the need arise.

If you wish to share these Client Alerts with friends or colleagues, please don't hesitate to do so.

Special Education Guidance for Closed Schools

While neither the United States Department of Education (“USDOE”), nor Texas Education Agency (“TEA”) has yet to provide specific guidance for public school district on providing educational services to students with disabilities during school closure, Geneva Taylor has provided a robust following based upon federal and state law and best practices.

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Governor Abbott Allows Virtual And Telephonic Open Meetings To Maintain Government Transparency

Yesterday, exercising broad powers under Texas Government Code, Section 418.016, Governor Abbott suspended various Texas open Meetings Act provisions that require government officials and members of the public to be physically present at a specified meeting location. This temporary suspension will leave important open-meeting protections in place:

  • Members of the public will be entitled to participate and address the governmental body during any telephonic or videoconference meeting.
  • To hold a telephonic or videoconference meeting, a governmental body must post a written notice that gives the public a way to participate remotely, such as a toll-free dial-in number, and that includes an electronic copy of any agenda packet that officials will consider at the meeting.
  • A governmental body must...
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Special Education Students: Do Not Rush to a Hasty Decision

Geneva Taylor talks through the necessary aspects of Special Education and its students schools leaders will need to consider when debating the decision on whether or not to close your school district.

The latest COVID-19 News

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Emergencies Cannot Wait

PYT Attorney's Available 24/7 During this Pandemic

As the State of Texas and the Federal Government have declared a State of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus ("Coronavirus") outbreak, school district and educational agencies are under mounting pressure to make decisive decisions whether to close schools and how to educate children during this crisis. While some state governors have ordered all public schools closed, currently, Governor Abbott has not ordered a statewide public school closure. Absent an order from the Governor, Texas school districts must individually evaluate whether to close their doors over concerns of the spread of the Coronavirus and what, if any education, meals, or childcare they will provide if they choose to close.

Each Texas school district and educational agency is unique. School districts must consider the needs of their specific community in making decisions relating to this pandemic. It is prudent that superintendents and school boards understand all potential legal implications. Your...

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To keep everyone as informed as we possibly can, PYT will be publishing frequent client alerts for the foreseeable future about the latest Coronavirus news. Be on the lookout for these alerts as we watch and report how the illness is impacting public schools and communities across the country.

Resources from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

FERPA and Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

Fact Sheet: Impact of COVID-19 on Assessments and Accountability under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak

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To keep everyone as informed as we possibly can, PYT will be publishing frequent client alerts for the foreseeable future about the latest Coronavirus news. Be on the lookout for these alerts as we watch and report how the illness is impacting public schools and communities across the country.

As of this morning, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the Coronavirus as a Pandemic thanks to the global spread of the illness.

AISD, Eanes ISD suspend school-sponsored domestic travel

After one Eanes ISD student became exposed to the Coronavirus on an out-of-state excursion, Eanes ISD and AISD have decided to suspend school-sponsored domestic travel in some capacity.

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*Information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. The Covid-19 emergency is rapidly developing. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. This website contains links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader, user or browser; the PYT Firm and its members do not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites. Readers of this website should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No reader, user, or browser of this site should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information on this site without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your attorney can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website authors, contributors, contributing law firms, or committee members and their respective employers. The views expressed at, or through, this site are those of the individual authors writing in their individual capacities only – not those of their respective employers, the PYT Firm, or committee/task force as a whole. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this site are hereby expressly disclaimed. The content on this posting is provided "as is;" no representations are made that the content is error-free.