AISD board to vote on delaying start of school year, 8 weeks of online class

Education

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees could vote Thursday whether to delay the start of school until after Labor Day.

It’s one of two action items on the board’s agenda for Thursday’s special meeting, and the proposed delayed start aligns with a request by Education Austin, the union that represents teachers in the district, by delaying the first day of school until Sept. 8. As of now, school is scheduled to begin Aug. 18.

Following the first day of school, which will be done online, the proposal will seek to continue online classes for eight weeks, putting the first possible on-campus classes in November. This process does not need Texas Education Agency approval, but the district will submit a waiver to allow for an extra four weeks of remote learning past the four the state automatically allows.

An AISD spokeswoman said there are a few different options being discussed right now and that there will be more information available Thursday. She also confirmed teachers will remain on an 187 day contract.

AISD superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz, along with chief of staff Dr. Jacob Reach, are listed as the presenters of the item on the meeting agenda. They said they are recommending the change due to “current local health conditions,” which they refer to as:

  • High COVID-19 numbers in Travis County (averaging 367 new cases per day during the month of July 2020) 
  • Current Austin Public Health Risk Guidance places Austin Travis County in Stage 4 
  • 3-4 people of 1,000 are estimated to be infected with a current multiplier of 3 
  • COVID-19 disproportionately impacts Hispanic population in the Austin Travis County
    • In Austin, 34% of the population is Hispanic 
    • In Austin ISD, 32% of staff and 56% of students identify as Hispanic
    • 57% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are among patients who identify as Hispanic

The board meeting begins at 9 p.m. Thursday and can be watched on the district’s AISD.tv website.

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