AUSTIN, TX — Yesterday, Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa filed Senate Bill 1011 to ensure students, teachers, and our schools are able to safely provide instruction for our children during this and future pandemics. This bill includes some measures that were implemented on a temporary basis by the Governor, Texas Education Agency, and Congress aimed at ensuring the safety of teachers and students while also not penalizing schools for the disruption that occurred during the pandemic.
Senate Bill 1011 first provides that a teacher or other district employee who tests positive for COVID-19, or a similar disease in the future, would be guaranteed 14 days of paid leave. This would guarantee that school staff are not penalized or otherwise motivated to stay at schools and expose students and other staff to the disease.
The bill also removes the high-stakes nature of tests like the STAAR test if school instruction was disrupted by a disaster like the pandemic or a hurricane. “It is important to measure student progress, but not penalize a student or school when a disaster occurs. A school’s number one priority is student achievement, and worrying about how its students are going to perform on the STAAR test should not be an added burden to schools dealing with a disaster like this pandemic,” stated Senator Hinojosa.
Additionally, SB 1011 places in statute the recent “hold harmless” decision announced by the Governor, which preserves school funding for the 2020-21 school year. Lastly, the bill would create a truancy task force to study this important issue and make recommendations about how to better keep our children in the classroom.
“These common-sense policies ensure schools are able to focus on educating students during disaster situations that are out of their control,” said Senator Hinojosa. “It is paramount that schools are a safe place to learn, and that they have the tools and resources to adapt during times like we are currently experiencing.”