Aliyya Swaby | Texas Tribune

Aliyya Swaby started as the Texas Tribune's public education reporter in October 2016. She came to the Tribune from the hyperlocal nonprofit New Haven Independent, where she covered education, zoning and transit for two years. After graduating from Yale University in 2013, she spent a year freelance reporting in Panama on social issues affecting black Panamanian communities. A native New Yorker, Aliyya misses public transportation but is thrilled by the lack of snow.

 

Students draw self-portraits in a kindergarten class on the first day of in-person classes at Highland Village Elementary.
Shelby Tauber for The Texas Tribune

More than 2,300 of Texas public school students who have returned to school in person since the beginning of this academic year — about 0.21% — have reported testing positive for COVID-19, according to a dashboard the state released Thursday in a first effort to publicly track the way the pandemic is impacting public schools.

Shelby Tauber / The Texas Tribune

The Texas State Board of Education gave preliminary approval this week to a sex education policy that includes teaching middle schoolers about birth control beyond abstinence — its first attempt to revise that policy since 1997.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

In a statement Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott said local health authorities can shut down schools if there’s evidence of an outbreak after students have already returned to campus — but cannot shut them down weeks before schools open.

His statement backs a legal opinion released by the Texas attorney general issued on Tuesday.

A classroom with chairs overturned on top of desks.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Local health officials do not have the authority to shut down all schools in their vicinity while COVID-19 cases rise, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in nonbinding guidance Tuesday that contradicts what the Texas Education Agency has told school officials.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Facing growing backlash from teachers, parents and health officials, Texas education officials Friday relaxed a previous order that would have given public schools just three weeks from the start of the fall semester to reopen their classrooms for in-person instruction.

Students outside North Forest High School in Houston.
Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

Local public health officials will be able to keep Texas schools closed for in-person instruction this fall without risking state education funding, a Texas Education Agency spokesperson confirmed to The Texas Tribune Wednesday.

Via social media

No one on the Texas State Board of Education wanted conspiracy theorist Robert Morrow to join their ranks — and Tuesday's runoff election gave them their wish.

A sutdent in a classroom at Cactus Elementary School.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Masks for students and teachers will be mandatory in counties with more than 20 reported COVID-19 cases when public schools resume in-person classes this fall, under new public health guidelines released by Texas state education officials Tuesday.

Students gather in an auditorium before class
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Texas public schools will be required to provide in-person instruction for students this fall, but state education officials have delayed releasing final public health guidelines for keeping them safe on campuses during the pandemic.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Texas students will be returning to public schools in person this fall, Gov. Greg Abbott told state lawmakers Thursday morning.

The state's top education officials confirmed the plans in a statement to The Texas Tribune.

A day care center in Austin.
Eddie Gaspar / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Workforce Commission voted Tuesday to begin phasing out temporary child care subsidy programs for low-income parents and essential workers started in response to the coronavirus pandemic, as Gov. Greg Abbott launches phase two of the state's attempted economic jump-start from coronavirus shutdowns.

An empty playground at the University of Texas Child Development Center in Austin.
Eddie Gaspar / The Texas Tribune

Restaurant servers, retail cashiers and movie theater concession workers in Texas could be called back to work as soon as Friday, in the first phase of the state's emergence from a coronavirus shelter-at-home order.

State Board of Education candidate Robert Morrow is known for wearing a jester's hat.
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

With his history of sexist, racist rhetoric and incomprehensible, conspiracy-laden rants, Robert Morrow has become one of the most unifying political figures in Texas.

Thomas Williams-Platt in the backyard of his aunt's home in Georgetown.
Angela Piazza for The Texas Tribune

Before entering the halls of Channing School high atop the Texas Panhandle last year, students were required to roll up their shirt sleeves to show they weren’t sneaking in e-cigarettes.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Were the reading and writing passages on standardized tests that Texas elementary and middle school students took this spring too challenging for their grade levels?

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

In a move that is unprecedented in scope, Texas state officials announced Wednesday they plan on taking over the state’s largest school district, yanking power from Houston Independent School District’s elected school board members to “prevent imminent and substantial harm to the welfare of the district’s students.”

House Speaker Dennis Bonnen
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Days after top Republican leaders announced they had a deal on a school finance bill long in the making, the Texas House and Senate on Saturday approved the final legislation, bringing mandated teacher pay raises and property tax cuts one step closer to becoming law.

State Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

State Rep. Dan Huberty, the top public education leader in the Texas House, postponed two items of legislation Tuesday that would pay for long-term, ongoing school district tax cuts by raising sales taxes — effectively killing any chance of passing the legislation this year.

Juan Figueroa / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate on Monday approved a bill to massively overhaul public school finance, but did so while backing away from a proposal to use an increased sales tax to lower school district property taxes.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Showing their usual united front, the state’s “Big Three” political leaders on Friday tried to remake their case for why the Texas Legislature should deliver on long-term, ongoing property tax relief before the session wraps up this month.

Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

After a long wait, the Texas Senate has finally unveiled a thorough proposal for how to tackle school finance and school property tax reform — bringing back several ideas the House already nixed.

Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

After more than three hours of discussion, the Texas House nearly unanimously passed a comprehensive bill to reform the way schools are funded and slow the growth of property tax bills.

Julia Reihs / KUT

With Texas House lawmakers unveiling their long-awaited school finance proposal Tuesday and the Senate's version likely close behind, teacher pay appears to be emerging as one of the biggest sticking points between the two chambers.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate on Monday unanimously passed a bill that would provide $5,000 annual pay raises for full-time classroom teachers and librarians, at a cost of $4 billion over the next two years.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The '

After a contentious three-hour public hearing Monday, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously passed a bill that would provide annual $5,000 pay raises for all full-time classroom teachers in the state.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Top Texas lawmakers this year are proposing allocating billions of more dollars for public schools, but a portion of those dollars will likely have strings attached. And some education advocates worry the strings will lead to an even greater emphasis being placed on standardized tests in the state.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Leaders of the Texas Senate are proposing giving schools $3.7 billion to provide $5,000 pay raises to all full-time classroom teachers — on the heels of a House budget proposal that includes $7 billion more for public education.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

An early estimate shows Gov. Greg Abbott's proposal for a school finance fix would provide three times more dollars for property tax relief as it would additional money for school districts in 2020.

Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

Two teacher associations sued Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath and the Texas Education Agency on Wednesday, arguing they rolled out a law incentivizing partnerships with school districts and charter schools in a way that weakened protections for public school employees.