Academic readiness exams will be postponed to help prevent the spread of a deadly Asian disease, the governor said.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has relieved elementary and high school students from taking the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The decision came as educational institutions across the nation announced temporary closures to prevent more students and school employees from contracting the Chinese coronavirus (COVID-19).

“With regard to so many school closures, it is just going to be impossible to implement the STAAR test this year,” Abbott said at a press conference at San Antonio’s Emergency Operations Center according to KXAN. “Your health and safety are top priorities, and the state of Texas will give school districts flexibility to protect and ensure the health of students, faculty, and their families.”

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) commended the governor for making the right decision to lift STAAR testing requirements across the Lone Star State.

“Given the need for social distancing, schools across the state are closing normal operations, and working to support learning while students remain at home,” Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a statement posted to Twitter. “We are thankful for Governor Abbott’s willingness to waive the STAAR testing requirement, as it allows schools the maximum flexibility to remain focused on public health while also investing in the capacity to support student learning remotely.”

The TEA described the threat of the coronavirus as an “unprecedented public health challenge” that requires the state funded agency to do everything possible to support schools and local communities.

“This year though it has become apparent that schools will be unable to administer STAAR as they would normally,” Morath said. “The educators we have been working with across the state remain concerned about the possible impact COVID-19 will have on student academic growth.”

STAAR helps “accurately and reliably” assess the literacy and numeracy of students according to TEA. The results are provided to parents who can support their child’s academic growth while helping educators to maximize student learning.

“TEA will continue to support them in every way we can, including ensuring the availability of free tools to diagnose student learning,” Morath said. “This will be just as necessary moving forward as it has been, so our dedicated Texas educators have the tools necessary to ensure all our students continue to grow into the best versions of themselves, both during and beyond our current public health challenge.”

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