Education Austin launches pilot program to create campus-based collaborations for COVID-19 concerns


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Education Austin has launched a new pilot program aimed at bridging the gap between Austin Independent School District employees and district leaders in regards to COVID-19-related issues.

“We are very excited about this. For so long it’s felt like we were not listened to,” said sixth grade Burnet Middle teacher David DeLeon.

DeLeon says he feels like his voice is finally being heard. This comes days after he found out his request to work from home was denied.

“It doesn’t make it feel like it’s in the best interest of your health to be putting yourself in an environment like that,” DeLeon said.

That’s why he’s now part of a team with Education Austin that is building a “COVID flexibility framework” pilot program.

The program launched at five schools: Bowie High, Ann Richards School For Young Woman Leaders, Burnet Middle, Padrón Elementary and Cunningham Elementary. The goal is for campus administrators, teachers and staff members to work together to address health concerns and students’ needs. The teams will specifically focus on current staffing and resources at each campus to see if they can fill in the gaps for teachers that need personal or family accommodations.

“This is campus-based decision making, showing that you create a strong culture and climate on a campus when everybody buys in,” said President of Education Austin Ken Zarifis.

The schools are expected to create a campus plan by next Friday to submit to Education Austin and the district for review.

“This has the potential of creating positive relationships between campuses districts and teachers and administration,” explained DeLeon.

The COVID flexibility framework program will be implemented at the beginning of 2021. The goal is to eventually expand the program to other schools.

KXAN has reached out to Austin ISD for comment about the plan. We’ll update this story once we hear back.

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