The Texas Education Agency this afternoon released new guidance on masks

March 3, 2021

The Texas Education Agency this afternoon released new guidance on masks in response to the governor’s actions lifting the statewide mask mandate yesterday. TEA is leaving in place its mask requirements while allowing local school boards to override them and decide if masks should be mandatory. I predict that this will lead to harmful, divisive local battles—which is unfortunate because even with vaccinations on the rise, health officials are still stressing the use of masks as one of the most effective tools we have to stop the spread.

I’m encouraging our union family to continue to fight for safety measures like masks, social distancing, and districts providing health-compromised employees with accommodations to stay remote. In the race to normalcy, Gov. Abbott jumped the gun with his dangerous removal of the statewide mask mandate yesterday, a move that appears to be politically motivated to shift attention away from the controversies over the state’s power outages. His callous disregard of school employees continues.

But let’s take a moment to celebrate the leadership from the Biden administration in doing the right thing and prioritizing school employees. We all want to get back to our schools to teach in person without fearing the dire consequences of a serious infection. While this is only one piece to that end, it certainly is to be commended.

I encourage all of you to make safety a priority and work to get a vaccination appointment. We will continue to update you as more information is released.

In solidarity,

Zeph Capo, Texas AFT President

Note that under the federal directive: “Teachers, school staff, and child care workers are defined as: those who work in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools, as well as Head Start and Early Head Start programs (including teachers, staff, and bus drivers) and those who work as or for licensed child care providers, including center-based and family care providers.”

DOI Survey Invite

As we continue to adjust to the new normal, HFT continues a never-ending battle with HISD when it comes to advocating for HISD employees’ careers, rights, and benefits.

We will continue to keep you informed but most importantly, we need your input- your opinion is critical, your voice counts.

 This time we want to invite you to fill out this very quick survey about DOI. On May 14th, the school board voted 7-2 to authorize the District of Innovation (DOI) process to begin in HISD.

This is only the first vote in a series of steps HISD administration needs to follow before HISD becomes a District of Innovation. HFT leaders and members have been in regular communication with school board members and Superintendent Lathan to express our continued concerns and opposition to various parts of the plan.

We continue to make sure that front line teachers have a seat at the table in the next steps of this debate. To assist in our conversations with the Superintendent and the District Advisory Committee (DAC), we need to hear your opinion about the current District of Innovation proposal.