TEA updates COVID-19 guidelines, allows limited remote instruction, schools not required to contact trace

Local

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Texas Education Agency updated its COVID-19 guidelines on Thursday for the current school year, detailing masks to contact tracing inside schools.

In the document, TEA said this guidance goes into effect immediately and replaces prior guidance. The agency also stated TEA recommends that public school systems consult with their local public health authorities and local legal counsel before making final decisions regarding the implementation of this guidance.

TEA updated guidance on the following:

• On-campus instruction
• Non-UIL extracurricular sports and activities
• Any other activities that students must complete

TEA said schools must notify their local health authority and the Texas Department of State Health Services of test-confirmed cases of COVID-19, whether it be any teacher, staff member, student or visitor. 

However, schools remain unable to require students or staff to wear masks. Schools can allow individuals to wear a mask if they choose to do so.

Additionally, school districts are not required to do contact tracing in the event someone tests positive for the virus.

Given the data from 2020-21 showing very low COVID-19 transmission rates in a classroom setting and data demonstrating lower transmission rates among children than adults, school systems are not required to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing.

TEA Guidance

Schools must exclude students from attending school in person who are actively sick with COVID-19 or who have received a positive test result for COVID-19, according to TEA’s guidance.

The TEA also said parents must ensure they do not send a child to school on campus if the child has COVID-19 symptoms or is test-confirmed with COVID-19, until the conditions for re-entry are met.

TEA said if officials are made aware of close contact, they should notify the student’s parents.

The guidance said for parents of students determined to be close contacts, they “may opt to keep their students at home during the recommended stay-at-home period.” Previous CDC guidance suggested a 14-day stay-at-home period based on the incubation period of the virus.

Updated CDC guidance states the stay-at-home period may end 10 days after the close contact exposure with no COVID-19 symptoms experienced if no testing is performed.

During the stay-at-home period, the school system may deliver remote instruction consistently
with the practice of remote conferencing outlined in the proposed Student Attendance
Accounting Handbook (SAAH) rules.

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