Good Evening Blacksmith Families,
As you may have heard on the news today, Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, has issued guidance that we will need to review in light of our back-to-school plans for the fall. This change is coming late in our deliberation process and is a good example of the challenges schools face this year. It has been difficult for us to provide you with our plans/updates as they are ever-changing as a result of the evolving nature of the COVID-19 virus and the direction we are receiving.
AG Paxton ruled that while local public health authorities “may possess some authority to close schools in limited circumstances, they may not issue blanket orders closing all schools on a purely preventative basis.” He further stated that this authority “remains with school system leaders who should consult with relevant public health authorities, including the Department and local health authorities.” While this prevents Tarrant County from issuing an order that requires us to remain off-campus, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), still provided schools with the flexibility to delay or stagger students return to campus at the start of school for up to four (4) weeks based on local conditions. AG Paxton closed with the recommendation for “local and school system officials to work together to make the best decision, within their authority under the law, to protect the health and safety of the residents of their jurisdictions.”
The AG opinion also resulted in numerous updates to the funding, attendance, enrollment, and school operations guidelines we have been receiving from TEA. Superintendents were on a conference call with Commissioner Morath this afternoon where we received those updates. Academy leadership will review all of this new information and should changes be made to our back-to-school-plan, including but not limited to our date to return to campus, we will post relevant updates through social media, emails, and/or official website for COVID communications.
Please be aware that we are planning for our school year to begin on the 24th of August, 2020. The decision of when to re-open the campus for in-person education will not affect this date.
Superintendent of Westlake Academy