Promoting Health and Safety for All

Austin ISD continues to focus on the health and safety of our school community. We have designed health and safety protocols to minimize the exposure and spread of COVID-19 to students and staff.

Following CDC recommendations and the TEA guidance for social distancing, Austin ISD will implement social distancing measures at all schools and district facilities, when feasible. The CDC considerations for schools states, “Space seating/desks at least 6 feet apart when feasible.” 
We understand that this paints a different picture of school than we are accustomed to, however we know that social distancing measures will help to keep our students and staff safe while at school and work.

Physical Environment - Safety Protocols

Each campus will: 

  • Train all Austin ISD employees to follow health and safety protocols. 
  • Ensure all campuses have allotment of PPE and cleaning material on-site each week. 
  • Provide each classroom with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. 
  • Provide all campuses with no-touch thermometers. 
  • Conduct daily health screenings for all students, staff, and visitors before entering campus. 
  • Modify daily cleaning schedules to ensure each space is sanitized and disinfected multiple times a day; and deep cleaning of campuses once a week. 
  • Install plexiglass in the front offices of all campuses. 
  • Discontinue on-campus events until further notice. We will continue to follow local health orders. 
  • Disable all water fountains at all Austin ISD campuses and facilities until further notice. 

Arrival and Dismissal Procedures

Please check campus websites or call your campus office for specific information about how the campus will be addressing arrival and dismissal of students. 

A few general guidelines include: 

  • Possible staggered start and end times. 
  • Health screenings for all students, staff, and visitors before entering the building. 
  • Implementation of social distancing practices when feasible. 

Transitions

Transition between classes will vary among levels (elementary, middle, and high school) and by campus. Size of campus and number of students will determine the number of transitions students experience. Campus plans should be reviewed together by families so that everyone understands what it will look like when moving around the campus. Protocols for transitions could include the following:

  • Fewer transitions, if possible
  • Use of markers in the hallways to ensure social distancing
  • Adherence to one-way traffic on each side of the hallway
  • Expecting students to keep their hands to themselves and to not touch other people, walls, floor, etc.

Outdoor Learning Environments

The use of outdoor learning environments is encouraged to support social distancing recommendations, reduce COVID-19 transmission risk, enhance academic outcomes, provide hands-on learning opportunities, and improve mental health/stress management.

For every age group from Pre-K to secondary, health authority guidance recommends that schools utilize outdoor spaces, when possible, as a high priority strategy for returning students to schools with physical distancing measures in place.

Protocols for Cleaning and Disinfecting

Austin ISD will implement and follow robust cleaning procedures: 

  • Clean high touch surfaces multiple times a day to include door knobs, push bars, front office countertops, desk tops, classroom student desk, tables, sink areas, countertops, cafeteria tables, hand washing areas, restrooms, shower locker areas, gym matting, weight rooms, stairway rails, bleacher rails, drinking fountains, computer keyboards, library countertops, book return areas, tables and all other touch points.
  • Clean the entire campus daily 
  • Deep clean entire campus weekly 
  • Provide disinfection stations to be located at campus entry points 
  • Wipe down of all areas before and after use 
  • Disinfect commonly used surfaces and areas frequently 
  • Install signage communicating effective sanitation measures 
  • Educate staff on proper hygiene and cleaning procedures 

Health and Safety Protocols 

The following social distancing measures will be implemented: 

  • Providing all schools with a graphics package to indicate 6 feet distancing 
  • Placing visual reminders in classrooms and throughout common areas to maintain 6 feet social distancing wherever possible 
  • Placing markers at all entrances to ensure social distancing is maintained 
  • Spacing seating/desks at least 6 feet apart when feasible 
  • Turning desks to face in the same direction (rather than facing each other), or have students sit on only one side of tables, spaced apart 

Visitors on Campus

Visitors to campus will be limited to visits required for essential operational or instructional business. Essential operational business includes, and is not limited to, services required to ensure the smooth continuation of campus operations such as food services and servicing mechanical systems.

Essential instructional business includes, and is not limited to, services from providers to meet the identified goals of a student’s IEP. 

Virtual meetings will be used whenever possible in order to limit campus visitors. Additionally, campuses will provide curbside services to allow for drop-off and pick-up of materials or supplies needed by students. When visitors do come into a school building, specific guidelines will be followed: 

  • All visitors will be required to wear a face covering aligned with the specifications provided in the face coverings section 
  • All visitors will be required to screen for COVID-19 as described in the screening section
  • If visitors have COVID-19 symptoms, or are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, they must remain off campus until they meet the criteria for returning to a school building or other district facility
  • Parents are encouraged to take advantage of the curbside services available at schools; except for business deemed essential by the campus administration, parent visits will be limited; lunch visits, dropping off of student supplies, materials, and personal items, and observing in a classroom are not considered essential visits at this time 
  • After passing the screening and upon entering a school building, visitors must stop at the front office and stand behind the plexiglass shield when speaking with the office staff 
  • Volunteers are not allowed to visit campuses at this time, including mentors, guest speakers, parents, and others 
  • Central office staff must limit their school visits to one school per day and are discouraged from visiting classrooms 
  • Approved partners and providers that provide direct student services or a specified district function must limit their school visits to one school per day 

Screenings

All staff, students, and visitors will be required to screen for COVID-19 symptoms before coming onto a campus or other Austin ISD facility each day.

Self-screen

Staff, students, and visitors may self-screen by using the Austin ISD application available on any smartphone or tablet.

Both on-site and self-screening will include staff, students (parents and caregivers administering), and visitors taking their own temperature and answering a series of questions (listed below). Based on the responses to the screening questions, the Austin ISD application will display either a green ✓ or a red X.

Upon arriving at the campus or facility, staff, students, and visitors will show their screening results and will be allowed to enter if a green ✓ is displayed. If a staff member, student, or visitor receives a red X, they must stay at home. Parents/guardians will be able to show screening results for their student. 

On-site Screening

For staff, students, and visitors that are not able to access the screening application, on-site screening will be available and required.

In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, when possible, in-person health screenings for students and visitors will take place while they are in their vehicles. 

Staff and secondary students that need to be screened on-site will be screened by having their temperatures taken and answering a set of questions. Elementary students that need to be screened on-site will be screened by having their temperatures taken only. 

Screening Questions

Screenings, whether on-site or self-administered, will: 

  • Include a temperature check (done with an infrared, “no-touch” thermometer on site) 
  • Include a series of four screening questions (same questions for students, staff, and visitors) 
    • What is your temperature? (100.0 or above is considered feverish) 
    • In the past 24 hours, have you had or have you felt like you have had any of the following symptoms that are NOT related to any underlying medical condition: 
      • Fever? 
      • Chills? 
      • Cough? 
      • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing? 
      • Fatigue/have been unusually tired? 
      • Headache? 
      • New loss of taste or smell? 
      • Sore throat? 
      • Congestion or runny nose? 
      • Nausea or vomiting? 
      • Diarrhea? 
      • Not feeling well in general? 
    • In the last 24 hours, has anyone in your household tested positive for COVID-19 or had any COVID-19-related symptoms (any symptoms listed above)? 
    • In the last 24 hours, have you been in close contact or around anyone else that has tested positive for COVID-19 or has had any COVID-19-related symptoms (any symptoms listed above)? 

When students and visitors are asked if they have symptoms, they will only be required to provide a “yes” or “no” response to the overall statement and will not be asked for specific symptom confirmation.

School systems are not entitled to collect information during screening on the specific health information of an individual beyond that they are symptomatic, and Austin ISD will adhere to this regulation. If a student or visitor fails the on-site screening by answering “yes” to any of the four questions, they will be sent home immediately. 

If the health screening is failed, the student, staff, or visitor must remain at home until they meet the criteria for returning to work or school as noted in the Criteria for Returning to School or Work After a Confirmed or Suspected Case of COVID-19 section. 

Visitors who drive or walk to campus to drop-off or pick-up a student will not be required to screen as long as they do not approach the building. 

Face Coverings

Austin ISD is following CDC guidance for schools regarding the use of face coverings as described below: 

  • Wearing a face covering will be required for all students, staff, and visitors while on Austin ISD grounds 
  • Staff conducting health screenings will be required to wear face masks and face shields 
  • All adults and students ages two and older must wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose.
  • As recommended by the CDC, time will be dedicated to teaching and reinforcing the use of face coverings 
  • Reusable cloth face masks must be washed daily.
  • Bandanas, neck gaiters, and face masks with air vents will not be allowed.
  • Face shields will be provided to all who are required to wear one.
  • Accommodations to the required use of face masks and/or shields will be made on a case-by-case basis for students and staff. 

Staff and students are encouraged to bring their own reusable cloth masks/face coverings to ensure a comfortable fit. In the event a student forgets a mask/face covering, masks will be provided at the school for use by the student for that day. Austin ISD will provide a face covering (face mask or face shield as appropriate) to students, staff, service providers, and approved visitors who arrive at a school or other facility without one.

Washing Hands and Use of Hand Sanitizer

Keeping our hands clean is one of the simplest and most important ways we can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. The CDC recommends that everyone wash their hands frequently throughout the day. All Austin ISD campuses and facilities will: 

  • Promote frequent 20-second hand washing practices among students and staff 
  • Ensure that all students and staff wash their hands 
    • before and after meal service 
    • after handling his/her face covering 
    • after blowing his/her nose, coughing, or sneezing 
    • after touching a door handle 
    • after using the restroom 
    • between activities 
  • Have hand sanitizer available at campus entrances, in classrooms, in the office area, and in common areas throughout the campus 
  • When soap and water is not available, students and staff will use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 

Additional Health and Safety Protocols 

  • Student-friendly graphics with reminders will be displayed throughout the school for: 
    • Noticing symptoms 
    • Maintaining social distance 
    • Frequent and thorough hand-washing 
  • Soft furnishings, soft toys, and other items that are hard to disinfect will be removed from classrooms 
  • Classroom furniture will be arranged to ensure social distancing between student desks and between teacher and students’ desks