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Building a Big Tent of Support for Schools in a Pandemic

TEGAC Supports Call for Statewide Task Force to Address Public Schools, COVID

June 29, 2020

Just as TEGAC built a big tent coalition advocating for school finance reform, we’re seeing public education advocates coalesce around the need for immediate support for Texas public schools as they navigate returning back to campus and the continuing public health and safety threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

TEGAC is proud to join 18 other business and public education organizations from across our state in a call to action for public schools. We’re urging state leaders to mobilize a statewide task force to focus on critical challenges posed by COVID-19.

Now is the time to convene experts in public education, public health and technology to help provide the guidance and support our Texas public schools need now to best prepare for the new school year.

There are six key areas that TEGAC and our allies are calling on state leaders to immediately address, including maintaining funding, connectivity and technology, professional development, assessments, health and safety, and the economic costs of inaction.

Now isn’t the time to roll back evidence-based reforms and funding in House Bill 3. We also know that with federal dollars rolling in from COVID-19 relief packages, we do not need to create new, recurring costs for local districts from this temporary revenue.

COVID-19 and distance learning is driving home the need to finally address access issues related to high-quality internet and technology for every student.

Just as our first responders, doctors and nurses are on the frontlines of the health care battle against COVID-19, our educators are also frontline responders, too. Ensuring we are equipping them with professional development for in-person and online instruction, as well as trauma training is critically important.

We also know that assessing learning loss that doesn’t burden schools but instead capitalizes or compliments their existing longitudinal data and maximizes student learning time will be important as students return to school this fall.

We know there are hard-dollar costs and logistics associated with preparing schools for reopening, including refitting school spaces, changes to academic calendars, necessary staffing adjustments and the hard costs of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies. We need to support our schools and ensure they have sufficient resources to address the health and safety concerns of their students, faculty and staff.

Finally, we must recognize that for our state to fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, our public schools must fully recover. The interplay between our schools, our workforce and our economy is not in question. That’s why action is needed now.

Read the joint letter and learn more about the priority areas for action here.

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