July is going to be a tough month for Texas’ educators. At the end of July, only weeks will remain before schools and universities resume classes.
The term “educators” in this case includes everybody beginning with a governor and legislature that sets an agenda for state agencies, such as the Texas Education Agency; then that agenda moves downstream to local school districts and their boards; then to school principals; and finally to teachers in the classroom.
Teachers also include football coaches and chess club instructors, not to mention band directors and drama club advisors.
In the coming weeks, Education Commissioner Mike Morath will update a plan with more guidance for school districts on how it will work.
The state will not require students and teachers to wear masks, but districts will be able to make their own rules on face coverings.
And the University Interscholastic League — while not a state agency but oversees most athletic contests — is gearing up for its 100th season of football as the state’s governing body of public high school sports. It oversees more than 1,300 schools with nearly 170,000 football players each fall.
Many of the state’s universities, too, already have been making plans to reopen campuses. Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University officials all have announced that masks will be non-negotiable next semester.
Many Texas universities, also, have waived requirements for incoming students to take ACT or SAT tests. The University of Houston, the University of Houston-Clear Lake and Texas Southern are among those waiving the requirement, although there are other enrollment requirements, such as taking placement exams.
While state and university officials are putting finishing touches on and formalizing plans, they need to be mindful that time is critical. School districts will need to implement those guidelines or requirements.
Although Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA and other major sports can take months to hash out deals and health protocols, the Texas education system, on all levels, does not have that luxury.
• Dave Mathews