TMA Task Force Begins Tackling School Reopening
By Joey Berlin

 COVID-19_School_Reopening

Photo: Getty Images

With big questions still lingering about the planned resumption of public and private schools in Texas next month, Texas Medical Association physicians are pooling their expertise to offer crucial input to state policymakers and the public.

TMA’s School Reopening Workgroup held its inaugural meeting Friday, diving into a wide-ranging discussion of the factors at play in school resuming during COVID-19. The meeting included a review of the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA’s) latest reopening guidance.

The 21-physician workgroup includes many physicians from TMA’s COVID-19 Task Force, Council on Science and Public Health, Committee on Infectious Diseases, and Committee on Child and Adolescent Health. It’s also collaborating closely with the Texas Pediatric Society, which is working separately on a response letter to TEA’s guidance update.

The latest TEA reopening guidance, also issued Friday, includes several key changes to the document the agency released earlier this month. Among them:

  • School districts will have flexibility to delay the start of in-person classes for the first four weeks, with an option for an additional four-week delay if the school board votes for it.
  • When school systems post summaries of their plans for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, those summaries should be developed in consultation with parents, teachers, and school staff.
  • High schools will be allowed to offer less than a full day of class to reduce the number of students on campus.
  • School districts should work with teachers and staff to ensure their safety and the safety of students, which can include allowing teachers to fulfill their duties remotely.
  • Districts can modify their schedules so teachers can interact with “smaller and/or more consistent cohorts” of people to mitigate risk.

Dallas infectious disease specialist Wendy Chung, MD, facilitated the TMA School Reopening Workgroup’s hour-long discussion and announced that Tyler pediatrician Valerie Smith, MD, would lead the group going forward.

Last Updated On

July 21, 2020

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Joey Berlin

Associate Editor

(512) 370-1393
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Joey Berlin is associate editor of Texas Medicine. His previous work includes stints as a reporter and editor for various newspapers and publishing companies, and he’s covered everything from hard news to sports to workers’ compensation. Joey grew up in the Kansas City area and attended the University of Kansas. He lives in Austin.

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