COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Updated: May 20, 2020
There are many questions surfacing as school districts wrestle with the implications caused by COVID-19. TxSSC has created this Frequently Asked Questions webpage to address topics specific to the Center and it will be updated as needed. We encourage school districts to email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition TxSSC has created a collection of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for Schools, and these will be updated as more information and resources become available:
Questions regarding distance learning, attendance, funding, and other school related topics are being addressed by TEA at their COVID-19 Support and Guidance for Schools webpage:
1. Can TxSSC assist my school district by looking at our multi-hazard emergency operation plan (EOP) and helping us prepare for COVID-19?
The above link to TxSSC: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for Schools contains information and guidance, including a template for a communicable disease annex and a continuity of operations plan (COOP).
The TxSSC School Readiness Division is available to assist with any questions or technical reviews. Districts can request assistance with creating a communicable disease annex or assistance with review and technical support of any existing EOP documents. Requests for assistance or questions can be sent by email to TXSSC_EOP@txstate.edu
2. Will TxSSC postpone the safety and security audit process for the 2017-2020 cycle?
The safety and security audit cycles are legislatively mandated in TEC 37.108, and for K-12 public schools the cycle ends on August 31, 2020. Since some districts have already completed their audits and are ready to submit their audit data, the reporting process will be opened as scheduled on April 15, 2020. TxSSC is also aware that many districts may not be ready, or have the capacity to submit data at this time. In light of the current situation, TxSSC anticipates extending the reporting deadline beyond the current deadline of September 15, 2020.
Update 04/14/20: The audit reporting will open on April 15, 2020 as scheduled. The reporting deadline of September 15, 2020 is now extended to November 15, 2020. TxSSC will continue to monitor the evolving situation and any additional updates will be published on this FAQ page.
Update 05/19/20: TxSSC has requested and received a waiver/suspension from the Office of the Governor to extend the audit deadline from August 31,2020 to October 31, 2020. This suspension is in effect until terminated by the Office of the Governor or until the March 13, 2020 disaster declaration is lifted or expires. The disaster declaration is renewed monthly as required by law. This does not change future audit cycle deadlines, it simple shortens the next audit cycle. Instead of being September 1, 2020 through August 31, 2023, the next audit cycle will be November 1, 2020 through August 31, 2023. As indicated in Update 04/14/20 for this question, the reporting deadline for this audit cycle was already extended to November 15, 2020 and this has not changed as a result of this waiver/suspension.
3. How should our school district proceed if we cannot conduct a safety and security audit of district facilities because they are closed/locked due to COVID-19?
Each district may be facing different circumstances related to this question so it is important that a district complies with all recommendations or orders from the local health authority, local governing body, Texas Department of State Health Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Governor’s Office.
If a school or facility is closed to conduct a deep cleaning, then no one should enter the campus or facility.
The priorities in most districts right now are likely focused around creating distance learning, food service, and meeting other needs of the district/community.
However, if a district has the capacity and resources to conduct an audit and wants to proceed, they can certainly do so if all social distancing and other recommendations or orders from the entities listed above are followed.
In order to truly ascertain the operational safety and security of a campus or facility, it is a best practice to conduct audits while students and staff are present. However, given the current circumstances, this will not be a possibility for many school districts. If this is not possible, an audit can still be conducted. However, it is possible and likely some elements, such as intruder assessment, visitor management procedures, exterior door locking procedures, and climate surveys might be missed.
Update 05/19/20: TxSSC recommends that districts complete their audit as soon as it is safe and feasible. This will vary from district to district based on local orders and circumstances. As discussed above, it is understood that some audit elements may be missed due to closed buildings, limited staff, and no students present. Due to the constantly changing circumstances of COVID-19, there is no way to know for sure what will be happening when and if schools reopen. Due to the uncertainty of circumstances and the probability of additional time to prepare for and reopen schools, having the audit completed prior to those tasks coming online may prove to be very beneficial. The District Audit Reporting tool (DARtool) will ask some general questions regarding some of the items that would potentially be missed but not specifics about the particular audit item. For instance the DARtool will ask about policies in place related to visitor management but it will not ask if the audit or test of the visitor management system had any specific failures, such as an unauthorized person gaining entry to a campus. It is recommended that any items missed due to closure be tested at a later date to ensure the effectiveness of those policies and systems. Please see FAQ number 2 and updates for information regarding extensions in auditing and reporting timelines.
4. If our school district is closed, will we still be required to comply with the required/recommended number of drills in law?
Except for fire drills, the recommended drill requirements are not finalized and are therefore not in rule. A district should make every effort to comply with the recommended drills when normal school operations resume. However, at this time, there is no penalty for not completing the recommended drills. The exception to this would be fire drills that may still need to meet compliance with the local fire marshal. As districts reopen or resume some functions within the facilities, they should consult with the local fire marshal for guidance.
5. Does our school district have to comply with the open meetings act regarding meetings conducted by the district school safety and security committee?
The District Safety and Security Committee must comply with the open meetings requirements. The Governor has suspended some of the requirements as stated in the document link below:
In many districts it may not be possible to have a quorum due to the required membership of the committee being tasked with other duties related to COVID-19. The Texas Attorney General has put out guidance related to conducting open meetings during COVID-19 at the link below:
6. How will school-based law enforcement be expected to comply with the requirements related to active shooter training TCOLE 2195 and other training requirements if no classes are available at this time?
The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) has issued a statement indicating that deadlines for these types of training will be extended. The link below refers to the TCOLE Technical Assistance Bulletins page, once there find the COVID-19 Response bulletin and click 'Get Document' to access the latest training information from TCOLE.
Individual questions about licensing or training requirements should be directed to TCOLE. TxSSC has suspended all in person trainings until May 1st. These trainings will be rescheduled at a later date.
7. Are behavioral threat assessment teams required to continue established interventions while school is closed or there is distance learning?
If a district is continuing to offer other services, such as food service or distance learning, then to the best extent possible, and based on available capacity and resources, the district should continue to monitor and provide the interventions that may be applicable. Intervention techniques are often dealing with a student’s inability to cope with trauma, crisis, or other issues, and the addition of COVID-19 may create a need for additional intervention or support systems.
8. Will TEA still collect data regarding behavioral threat assessment teams this year?
Due to the complexities of this task and the challenges presented by the COVID-19 situation, the TEA plans to phase in data collection required by SB11 regarding behavioral threat assessment in order to accommodate the hardships school districts are overcoming and to make the process as user friendly as possible. For TEA’s most recent update on school safety, please see this link:
9. Does the TxSSC have any guidance for food distribution to students during COVID-19?
Yes. The TxSSC has developed a guidance document for school districts on tips for providing meals to students during COVID-19. See the link below to access this document from our COVID-19 resource page.
10. Will TxSSC waive District School Safety and Security meeting due to COVID-19?
Since the District School Safety and Security Committee meetings are legislatively mandated in TEC Chapter 37 Section 37.109, TxSSC does not have the authority to waive the meetings. Other required meetings, such as board meetings are continuing as well. It is quite possible that the members of this committee will be available during the COVID-19 crisis to meet (e.g. Zoom meeting). A meeting should still be set and posted as required and a meeting held. If a quorum is not present then the meeting should be handled as any other official open meeting where a quorum is not present. The Attorney General of Texas has information and training on open meetings on their website:
The Governor’s Office has waived some requirements of open meetings during COVID-19. Please see question 5 in this FAQ for more information.
11. Does TxSSC have guidance on the use of school campuses or facilities for COVID-19 testing?
Some third party vendors have approached school districts about using campus or facility parking lots to conduct drive thru COVID-19 testing. These vendors may not be approved or sanctioned by any particular government agency and may simply be acting on their own behalf. If approached by a vendor, it is recommended that you contact your local health authority to discuss this issue. If allowing a third party vendor to utilize space, it is a best practice to ensure there is a contract in place that outlines the use conditions and timelines, the responsibilities and liabilities of each party, and any other criteria deemed necessary to ensure the district is covered.
If the local health authority or another government entity is making a request to use a campus or facility, it is a best practice to establish some form of agreement, such as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Inter Local Agreement (ILA), or something similar. This should outline some of the same basic guidelines as a contract with a vendor.