Nearly 800 employees request medical waivers to keep working at home, AISD superintendent says

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District received 780 requests so far from employees requesting medical waivers to keep doing their jobs from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the superintendent.

During a news conference Thursday morning, Dr. Stephanie Elizalde added the district approved approximately a third of those requests at this point.

Elizalde confirmed that Austin ISD will keep pursuing its plan to welcome back some students to campuses for in-person learning on Oct. 5. After sending out an email Wednesday, she reiterated that buildings will keep capacity at 25% at this phase in the distict’s reopening plan.

She said the district currently employs about 11,000 people, and right now approximately 4,000 of them are reporting to campuses for work. She noted that the district has “not seen any outbreak” at this time.

She said teachers and staff members will have to answer a five-question screening for potential COVID-19 symptoms and undergo temperature checks each day before they enter a building. That information, she said, will be added to an app to track the screening process and make it easier to contact trace if there any coronavirus cases.

“When we have had the opportunity to assess our effectiveness at limiting the spread of COVID-19 on-campus, we will revisit the possibility of allowing students to change classrooms throughout the day,” Elizalde wrote in the email. “This approach will allow us to confirm safety protocols are working before taking further steps toward in-person school as we know it.”

When it comes to what will guide the district’s reopening process, Elizalde said school leaders will keep following the advice from Austin Public Health’s experts and rely on data points, like the positivity rates, recent COVID-19 cases and hospitalization admissions.

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