Dozens of AISD volunteers wearing bright red shirts and carrying flyers could be seen in the neighborhoods around Northeast Early College High School on the morning of Saturday, April 10.
As part of Operation Reconnect, their mission was to talk to some of the 5,500 families who stopped coming to school this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The district recruited 195 volunteers to go to the homes of 625 students and talk to families about getting back into school.
“Our passion at AISD is serving students: every child, every day. It’s why so many of us get up in the morning and do this important work,” said Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde. “We need our kids back. That’s why we got up today.”
The district is especially hopeful to bring more students back into the classroom now that teachers have had access to more than 8,000 vaccination opportunities and on-campus rapid-testing data shows a lower COVID-19 positivity rate inside AISD than in the Austin/Travis County area.
The day started at Northeast Early College High School where volunteers collected draw-string backpacks, information packets and registration forms to distribute. Volunteers were also given personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer.
Teams were divided into groups of approximately seven individuals with each including at least one AISD administrator and one bilingual member.
“I think it’s awesome that you all are here to support our mission and our values,” said AISD Board President Geronimo Rodriguez. “I want to thank you for stepping up, coming this morning and walking our community and asking students to come back to our schools safely.”
Kimberly Whalon is a mom who lives in an apartment near Northeast. Her children are enrolled in AISD schools, but she said she was glad to see the district in her community engaging with her neighbors.
“I was really excited,” she said. “I think [AISD] needs to let parents know what’s being taught in the schools and give them information for people to bring their kids back.”
AISD plans to hold more Operation Reconnect events focused on other communities and school vertical teams.