Earlier today, our office provided a legal update regarding guidance issued this morning by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. TEA has now expressly adopted the Attorney General’s guidance. TEA states that a school district will not receive funding if the school district offers remote-only instruction due to a blanket closure order issued by a local health authority. According to FAQ No. 42, “a blanket order closing schools does not constitute a legally issued closure order for purposes of funding solely remote instruction[.]” (See TEA’s Enrollment and Attendance FAQ Q42 and 45 at https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/covid/SY-2020-21-Attendance-and-Enrollment.pdf)
TEA also states that school districts may receive funding for remote-only instruction during the transition period prescribed by TEA, so long as all students have access to remote devices and connectivity. However, a school district that follows a local health authority’s order and remains closed to in-person instruction beyond the TEA transition period will lose state funding.
We stand by our opinion that the Attorney General’s guidance is a non-binding legal opinion; however, TEA’s additional guidance today will limit a school district’s options with respect to offering remote-only instruction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.