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Texas officials offer schools option to hold online-only classes until November

Texas officials offer schools option to hold online-only classes until November
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Texas officials on Friday announced that schools can continue online-only learning until November as the state sees climbing cases of the novel coronavirus. 

AP reports that the changes were announced just hours before Texas set another daily record for COVID-19 deaths, 174, as well as more than 10,000 new cases of the virus as the state sees a growing outbreak. 

Previously, state officials had given districts the option of remote learning for three weeks and then having in-person classes. Most schools will also require masks and social distancing when they reopen. 

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Gov. Greg Abbott (R) tweeted after the announcement that "the health [and] safety of students, teachers [and] parents is the top priority."

The decision comes as President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE and Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosFederal student loan payment suspension extended another month DeVos knocks free college push as 'socialist takeover of higher education' Anti-bullying scholarship program offers 'Hope' for students — and school choice MORE have pushed for schools to return to in-person learning in the fall, even threatening to withhold federal funding from those that don't return full-time. 

But the subject has been at the center of debate and sparked backlash from parents and teachers who worry about the virus spreading among children. While health officials say children often experience less severe coronavirus symptoms or are even asymptomatic carriers, many are concerned they will bring the virus home to parents or spread it to their teachers and the vulnerable. 

A number of other states have made similar decisions in recent weeks. 

California announced on Friday that about 80 percent of its population was on a "watch list" that would not be allowed to reopen schools for in-person learning until they could demonstrate back-to-back weeks of coronavirus cases being on the decline. When schools do reopen, they will require masks and social distancing.