Gov. Abbott to Extend Online-Only School Option

Texas districts had been told online-only education could be limited to three weeks, or risk losing state funding

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Governor Greg Abbott announced Tuesday his intention to extend the time period that Texas school districts will have the option to offer online-only education for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.

Previously, districts had been informed that they would have to limit online-only learning to the first three weeks, or risk losing state funding.

Governor Abbott has not yet suggested whether there will be a new state-mandated time limit put into place, or whether the decision will be left entirely to the respective districts.

The move from Abbott comes after the board presidents of the 10 largest school districts in the state sent a warning letter, asking for flexibility on the state's planned reopening of school next month and expressing concerns over the funding issue.

The letter – dated July 13 – was sent on behalf of district board leaders from cities like Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston.

“Conditions have changed dramatically in the last four weeks, and they continue to worsen daily,” the letter reads. “It is clear you recognize the ever-changing situation as we’ve seen the daily developments in both numbers of cases, pulling back from opening certain businesses, mandating masks in the majority of counties, etc. School districts and their communities are facing the same worsening conditions, and these recent circumstances are far more acute than when districts across the state were closed initially this past spring.”

In addition, the Texas Education Agency informed Texas districts last week that they must offer in-person instruction to students five days a week to all families that would prefer a traditional educational experience.

Multiple large districts, including Dallas and San Antonio, have suggested they are considering delaying the start of the upcoming school year.

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