Shannon Najmabadi, Texas Tribune

Shannon Najmabadi is the higher education reporter at the Tribune, where she started as a fellow in 2017. She previously reported for the Chronicle of Higher Education, where she covered the gender equity law Title IX, fallout from an executive order on immigration, and a federal loan forgiveness program with an uncertain future. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

It’s been more than a month since Marissa Hudler hugged her kids. Fearful of accidentally bringing the new coronavirus home, she and her husband — both health care workers — sent their two sons to stay at their grandparents’ house in March and don’t expect they’ll return for weeks.

Rebecca Mae had been feeling sick for days when she was sent home from her job as a San Antonio respiratory therapist, and told not to return until she tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

In normal times, an N95 face mask would cost a big corporation a buck or less — particularly if it ordered a million of them.

But these aren’t normal times, and the pitch from industrial supplier Hatfield and Company to sell as many as 2 million masks to a major U.S. oil company last week wasn’t your typical offer. The Texas-based supplier wanted $6.3 million for a minimum order of 1 million masks, with an option of buying 2 million for nearly $13 million, sales documents and interviews indicate.

Some Texas hospitals are erecting tents, planning to add beds, and eyeing vacated buildings as overflow facilities while they prepare for what may be a deluge of COVID-19 patients.

The inauguration of the Texas governor and lieutenant governor — traditionally two days of parties, picnics and parades — has been transformed into a giant payday for campaign staff and fundraisers.

Texas’ next higher education commissioner will be Harrison Keller, a high-level administrator at the University of Texas at Austin and the founder of recent initiatives designed to improve college readiness and student outcomes. He will assume the post Oct 1.

Laura Skelding / The Texas Tribune

The UT System allocated $160 million of its oil money for the project.

From The Texas Tribune:

Seeking to make college more affordable, the University of Texas will use some of its oil money to dramatically expand the financial aid it offers to low- and middle-income undergraduates on its flagship Austin campus.

The interest group representing Texas cities used to be one of the most powerful legislative forces at the Capitol. This session, it has become the GOP’s most prominent adversary.

As a former mayor, five-term state senator and champion of limited government, state Sen. Robert Nichols was familiar with the Texas property tax code.

But in 2016, in a visit with a local appraiser, the Jacksonville Republican was surprised to learn there was something strange happening on properties across central Texas.