Texas Education Agency outlines options for school districts to adjust 2020-21 calendar in response to COVID-19

(Courtesy Texas Education Agency)
(Courtesy Texas Education Agency)

(Courtesy Texas Education Agency)

The Texas Education Agency has acknowledged the 2020-21 school year is likely to be disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic that halted in-person learning in many districts in mid-March.

According to a the agency's website, the TEA anticipates short-term disruptions to instruction and an increase in student absenteeism, with some students consistently absent due to COVID-19.

To minimize disruptions, the TEA has created school calendar scenarios that can adjust for learning loss. Projections show the possibility of a year’s worth of progress lost in math for students.

Calendar revisions will require substantial changes at the district level, including school board approval.

Scenario 1: An intersessional calendar

An intersessional calendar would include longer breaks throughout the school year that provide flexibility.

Changes with an intersessional calendar would include:

  • an earlier start date

  • longer breaks

  • a later end date

  • built-in remote learning time

  • staggered in-person attendance

  • six weeks of intersessional breaks in addition to the regular calendar for remediation, acceleration or enrichment; breaks required due to resurgence of COVID-19; or bad weather makeup days

Scenario 2: Additional days school year

House Bill 3, a school finance bill passed in 2019 during Texas’ 86th legislative session, allows districts the option of implementing an extended school year in elementary schools.

The open for additional days in the school year would allow for up to 30 additional school days, in addition to the minimum required 180 instructional days.

Calendar redesign options with additional days include:

  • optional summer learning;

  • an intersessional calendar with intermittent breaks for targeted remediation with a subset of students; and

  • a full year redesign with a revamped calendar of seven six-week sessions, daily schedule changes to increase teacher planning time and student play.

Next steps for school districts interested in redesigning their calendars include changing start dates. At a local level, this includes talking to parents, teachers and students to gauge needs and wants. Districts will then need to verify their authority to make calendar changes and obtain board approval.

Some school boards, such as Fort Bend ISD in the southwest Houston area and Richardson ISD in the northeast Dallas area, have already approved offering online options for students beginning at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

To learn more about these options and next steps from the TEA, visit tea.texas.gov.
By Beth Marshall
Born and raised in Montgomery County, Beth Marshall graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in communication and a minor in business. Originally hired as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in 2016, she became editor of the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition in October 2017.