Some parents upset over AISD's switch to 'virtual' health care system

Parents say that virtual care just isn't enough.

AUSTIN - Hundreds of students in the Austin Independent School District enjoyed their first day of school Monday. The summer vacation is over, and before you know it students will be out of school again for the holidays.

However, there are some parents that want school officials to change an important policy when it comes to healthcare.

District leaders are testing what they call "virtual care" at Eastside Memorial High School, McCallum High School, and Crockett High School.

The technology allows full-time nurses to have eyes on students based on medical need.

This new program will allow the health team more time on school campuses and reduces the need for nurses to travel between schools. If there is a serious issue, parents can be added to the virtual appointment. 

"This is about earlier care where and when you need it. And we recognize how hard it is for parents taking off work, picking up a child then going to a waiting room among a bunch of sick children. We are bringing that service to children at the school," said Kristi Henderson with Dell Seton Medical Center.

In addition, students are also supported by certified health assistants. But this isn't enough for parents like Beth Martinez. Martinez believes every school in AISD needs someone on the campus with an active care plan.

"I think this is a major step backward for AISD and it's not as forward-thinking as they have been in the past," Martinez said.

AISD says its contract with Dell Seton goes back nearly 20 years.

Martinez and other parents plan to attend the school board meeting to try to get the policy changed.

AISD released the following statement in response to concerns about virtual care:

"Austin ISD will continue to provide full-time health professionals to support all students. We are joining a growing number of districts across the nation using virtual care. This technology allows full-time nurses to have eyes on students based on medical need, gives the health team more time on AISD campuses and reduces the need for nurses to travel between schools. In addition to our campuses having access to this service, our students are also supported by certified health assistants at all of our campuses." 

(For context- it's important to note that AISD has never had nurses at all of our campuses.  Additionally, as we have in the past, we continue to have full-time nurses at our largest campuses - our high schools).
 

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