HARLINGEN, Texas – New guidelines have been updated by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) that provide school districts additional time for distance learning at the start of the fall semester.
The TEA said schools can go virtual for the first month of class, another shift as school districts are delaying the start of school as COVID-19 cases rise.
“We’re starting the school year in virtual learning and distance learning. Honestly, that gave myself and a lot of educators that peace of mind that we needed,” Sylvia Tanguma President of the McAllen American Federation Teachers said questioning the time decision. “I think they have given some peace of mind, but they said four weeks, what if in four weeks we are higher in cases.”
Tanguma said safety still needs to be prioritized.
“They need to emphasize the safety not the politics. Why are they rushing to reopen when it’s not safe. We need to not put a time limit the way that they have, but prioritize safety,” she said.
However, there is another challenge. Students who lack technology for distance learning.
Isabel Martinez said in the spring, transitioning to distance learning was difficult without the resources.
“We had the boys sharing a different device…if you’re limited in devices that makes it pretty difficult,” she said.
She said some districts have been providing students with the resources.
In the TEA’s new guidelines, there is a specific exception for students without internet access, allowing them on-campus instruction every day.
Tanguma said the Texas American Federation Teachers is going to continue to fight for safety measures to be required and enhanced before in class sessions begin.