TEA COVID-19 Support & Guidance
19 Aug 2021 - Public Health Guidance
K-12 COVID-19 Testing Project
- This is the program that provides ISDs with FREE Rapid Testing materials. The deadline to apply is now 19 Aug 2021. https://tea.texas.gov/texas-schools/health-safety-discipline/covid/covid-19-support-public-health-orders
Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) was authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act -
- Deadline to apply August 26, 2021 @ yourtexasbenefits.com/Learn/PEBT
Chair of Pediatrics, Texas Tech UHSC and CTO of El Paso's Children's Hospital asks for universal masking in schools
masking in schools. As a pediatrician, I support guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)1 and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)2 that in-person learning options are preferable to virtual for both the academic and social-developmental merits. COVID-19 outbreaks, which could be averted by universal masking along with other mitigation practices, could force school closures and disrupt in-person children's education.
The Delta variant is a game changer with unknown long-term effects on our children. It is more than twice as contagious as the original COVID-19 strain and it is now the dominant strain in our community. Despite all of our recent progress in fighting this pandemic, the rapidly rising cases in the El Paso area now show a disappointing regression back to where we were nearly 8 months ago, with daily new cases in the - 200 range. El Paso Children’s Hospital is currently devoting 20 to 40% of it inpatient pediatric acute care beds due to COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. Adult hospitalizations are also increasing at an alarming rate and more and more ICU beds are being used by COVID-19 patients.3 Current vaccination rates among children aged 12 to 15 in El Paso are less than 30%. This, combined with the lack of an approved COVID-19 vaccine for children less than 12 means that rates of protection in our classrooms are well below the 70-80% needed to achieve herd immunity.
To keep our children in school while keeping them healthy, I support the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of universal masking Pre-K through 12 be required for all students, teachers, staff, and visitors, even for those who are vaccinated. This is consistent with the updated CDC guidance which was released on July 27th.
The recommendations include the following:
- Universal masking for everyone as noted above while indoors and when safe distances cannot be maintained.
- The schools should partner with local public health experts to determine when to safely discontinue universal masking.
- Mask exemptions due to underlying medical conditions should be permitted with authorization by a licensed medical practitioner (MD, DO, APRN, PA).
- Mask policies will be enforced according to the school's code of conduct and the necessary disciplinary action shall occur for individuals who do not comply.
These policies should be reviewed on a routine basis and modified according to the most
current data available due the fluid and ever-changing nature of this deadly disease.
I urge the El Paso area Superintendents, Deputy Superintendents, the Boards of Education, County Commissioners and all community leaders to mandate a universal mask policy for the safety and health of our children and our community as a whole.
Glenn J. Fennelly, MD, MPH
Vice President of the Board
Doctors of the World, USA
State Board of Education Member Georgina C. Pérez, Senator César Blanco, and County Judge Ricardo Samaniego strongly encourage local public health authority to require masks in El Paso County public schools.
As more and more Texas communities take decisive action to protect public safety by defying Governor Abbott's ban on mask mandates, we strongly encourage Dr. Ocarranza to consider a mask requirement to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community and keep our children safe. As the health authority for El Paso County, Dr. Ocarranza has both the authority and the responsibility to protect public health, and we stand ready to provide support. Nothing is more important than keeping our kids safe. The time for action is now.
August 2021 LEA Rapid COVID Testing Opt-In Application
This application is intended for public schools that are not currently in the state sponsored K-12 testing project. This application closes on Thursday, August 29, 2021. Public schools that are already in the program DO NOT need to fill out this application.
Every Monday & Thursday - ISD's can rapid-test every teacher, staff, custodial, cafeteria, bus, maint., etc.
At no cost to the ISD
Letter from the El Paso/Las Cruces PedsStrong Group - Mask Mandate for all students, teachers, and staff
COVID-19 School Readmission Criteria
Texas COVID Learning Acceleration Supports (TCLAS)
Gov. Abbott issued executive order GA-38 last week which prohibits local government entities, including school districts, from enforcing proven mitigation strategies such as immunization and the use of face coverings. Under this order, school districts that act to protect the health of local communities by implementing the same strategies that helped slow the spread of COVID-19 last year are now subject to a fine of up to $1,000.
Member Pérez has offered to raise private funds to help pay the fine for any district punished under order GA-38 for acting to protect students and staff.
"Governor Abbott's latest politically-driven order will kill people. Period." Perez said. "Local leaders of good conscience are obligated to ignore this fraud and act on their own to safeguard the lives of our precious children and the educators who serve them. A thousand bucks is a small price to pay."
The highly infectious Delta variant has caused COVID-19 hospitalizations to skyrocket across Texas just as millions of children too young to be vaccinated, some of whom suffer from preexisting health conditions, return to school.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that children account for 1 in 6 new COVID-19 cases and has recommended all children over the age of 2 wear masks. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has likewise recommended all students wear masks when they return to classrooms.
Georgina C. Pérez
Texas State Board of Education District 1