AUSTIN, Texas — Austin ISD has announced its official plan to return all students to on-campus learning for the 2021-22 school year with no virtual learning option.
The district said Friday that it had been weighing its options after House Bill 1468 – which would have allowed for some virtual learning – failed in the Texas Legislature. But with continuously declining COVID-19 cases in Austin-Travis County, AISD said officials have decided conditions will be safe enough for all students to return to campuses in August.
"By following guidelines from Austin Public Health, the CDC and more, we’re confident we can safely reopen to all our students," Chief of Schools Anthony Mays said.
AISD has also signed onto a joint letter asking Gov. Greg Abbott to consider virtual learning legislation in any special session.
The district said in the last week of the 2020-21 school year, about 63.5% of elementary students, 34.5% of middle school students and 9.16% of high school students chose on-campus learning. In August, tens of thousands of students will return to a school building for the first time.
"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."
Public health officials feel optimistic that schools will be safe but urge that caution is still necessary.
"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," Austin Public Health Director Dr. Desmar Walkes said.
AISD has launched a website with resources and information about the upcoming school year, including how to enroll.
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