Texas AG Says Only Schools, Not Health Officials, Can Order Closures Due to Pandemic
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion stating that only school officials, both private and public, and not health officials, can order campus closures aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.
School districts in the El Paso area have been making decisions based on the emergency orders passed by City-County health officials but as of the writing of this article, it is still too early to tell if or how local campuses will adjust to Paxton’s opinion. Currently, local public schools and some private schools are adhering to the health order that prevents students from beginning in person instruction until September 8.
While any opinions the Texas Attorney General issues are not legally binding, practices and policies are typically put into place in order to quickly adhere to them. As a result, the Texas Education Agency has already reversed course and indicated that schools that remain closed due to following a local health order will not be funded. This potentially means that campuses in the area may decide to offer in person instruction as of their official first day of school. However, it is also important to note that TEA still kept the transition period of 2-4 weeks in place for campuses to allow for online only classes at the beginning of the year (should districts choose to remain on this route).
The school year for YISD, EPISD, SISD, and Canutillo ISD begins on August 17. Fabens ISD starts school on August 10 and Clint ISD actually began the year on Monday, July 27.
There’s no doubt that updated information will be sent out by area school district officials so be on the lookout. If you can, it is also a good idea to take a deep breath and try and process the craziness this pandemic is causing for parents and educators. It’s frustrating for sure but coming together may help with smoothing out what’s proven to be a bumpy ride.