With COVID-19 cases at a record low, Austin ISD plans to return all students to on-campus learning for the 2021-22 school year, with no virtual learning option.
The district had been weighing its options after the failure of HB 1468, which would have allowed some virtual learning. However, with cases continuing to decline in Austin/Travis County and across the country, AISD officials decided conditions will be safe enough for all students to return in August.
“By following guidelines from Austin Public Health, the CDC and more, we’re confident we can safely reopen to all our students,” said Chief of Schools Anthony Mays.
Austin ISD has also signed onto a joint letter asking Governor Greg Abbott to consider virtual learning legislation in any special session of the legislature.
In the last week of school, about 63.5% of elementary students, 34.5% of middle school students and 9.16% of high school students chose on-campus learning. Following the shift to only on-campus learning, this will be the first time back in a school building for tens of thousands of students.
“We know and realize that this will be a big shift for our students, so we’re committed to doing everything possible to help them in that regard,” Mays said. “We’re preparing our counselors, School Mental Health Centers, teachers and more to make sure our students feel safe from the opening bell to leaving for school at the end of the day.”
Despite the influx of new students, public health officials feel optimistic that schools will be safe while still urging caution.
"Throughout the school year, the school districts have been implementing strategies for COVID-19 and they’re very well versed and if they maintain vigilance and make sure students wash their hands and are social distancing, and encouraging people who are ill and sick to not come to school, then those things will continue and do so in a seamless manner,” said Austin Public Health Director Dr. Desmar Walkes.
To help families prepare for the new school year, Austin ISD has launched a website with resources and information about the 2021-22 school year, including how to enroll, pre-k, schools, and more. Families can access the website at www.austinisd.org/reconnect.