Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said teachers will only have to provide instruction one way when asked if hybrid learning will continue into next year.
“At this point, we anticipate and are planning for a much more traditional school environment,” she said.
Elizalde and her team are continuing to work on a plan for some students who will need to learn virtually for various reasons if public schools are offered the option to do so next year.
The statement came at a session of Conversations with the District, during which families and staff from the Liberal Arts and Science Academy and special campuses such as Rosedale, ALC and Clifton had the opportunity to hear from district administrators and ask questions about their school communities.
“Teachers are not going to be doing concurrent instruction,” Elizalde said. “This is not something that is sustainable. We all have done amazing work trying to do the best we can, but we have to recognize that this cannot be the delivery.”
Speaking about masking guidelines for next school year, Elizalde said the district will continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
“If they recommend we utilize masks, then we will utilize masks,” she said. “We think the most important thing to do is to recognize our teachers cannot be replaced, so we will be following science guidelines with regards to best practices as long as the CDC says those are the best practices to use.”
Some exceptions are being considered, such as when families are outside during physical education or recess.
The Liberal Arts and Science Academy is fourth in the state in magnet programs and Elizalde wants to continue that trend, she said. She expressed the need to expand these programs in the district.
“There is no doubt that our magnet programs are a huge component to why parents choose our schools,” Elizalde said. “Our magnet programs offer a state-of-the-art approach to meet the needs of students who have areas of interest.”
Elizalde said Austin ISD will look to replicate some of the programs that are working well.
“If there are some things that are going well we need to take advantage of that and expand on that,” she said.
She continued, saying we must ensure access to Magnets for all parts of the community.
“As we continue to deal with COVID, with the loss of some student enrollment, how do we ensure that all parts of our community have quality magnet programs?” Elizalde asked. “We have already done some of that, but I want to build on that.”
Chief Officer of Academics Elizabeth Casas said the district is committed to supporting schools to meet the needs of students.
“We are here to support the schools to meet the high expectations of our community,” Casas said. “We are ready and willing to do whatever we need to to help our principals make sure they are meeting the needs of their schools.”
AISD is eligible for up to $156 million through the CARES three funding, said Jacob Reach, chief officer of intergovernmental relations and board services, but the funding does come with rules regarding how it can be spent.
There are 15 allowable uses for funding focused on facility improvements, personal protective equipment, technology and addressing students’ academic needs. The funding is a one-time infusion of dollars so it cannot be used for recurring costs such as salary increases.
AISD must submit a plan to the state that signifies that schools will be open in person and solicit feedback from the community on how the funds will be spent.
“We will be asking for feedback so that we are ensuring that we are utilizing these funds to best improve student outcomes,” Reach said.
District officials hope to have more information and begin utilizing these funds as early as this summer.