AUSTIN, Texas — Despite concerns over the spread of coronavirus, school districts in Central Texas have not canceled classes, with the Texas Education Agency pointing out how doing so can be tough on economically disadvantaged students.
TEA Commissioner Mike Morath testified at the Texas House Committee on Public Health Tuesday, as state lawmakers were briefed on the current Coronavirus situation.
“There have been questions raised about students eligible for subsidized breakfast and lunch through school districts, about what happens if they’re not able to come to school,” Morath said.
In his testimony, Morath said many students rely on free and reduced lunches, and cancelling classes could hinder their access to food.
“I don’t think there is an easy fix. School districts are logistically well-designed to administer food service while they’re in operation. They’re not logistically designed to deliver meals. That’s a new feature to the school if they don’t have it previously, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to stand up successfully for a 14-day period,” Morath said. “School districts, themselves, are in charge of determinations as to whether or not they remain open or closed.”
Donna Raskin is the founder of the organization – Austin Kids Can! – and echoes these concerns.
Her organization focuses on providing after school programs for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, specializing in computer science, coding, and social and emotional learning, She says she hears these concerns over schools closing from families.
“Parents are relying on the school to watch their kids,” Raskin said.
Below are the total number and percentage of economically disadvantaged students in Central Texas school districts, according to the Texas Academic Performance Report for the 2018-2019 school year: