AUSTIN (KXAN) — There won’t be any online learning in the Austin Independent School District next school year.
AISD officials made the announcement via a press release Friday, saying they are “all-in” on students returning to classrooms in August for the 2021-2022 school year with no virtual option available.
Previously, the AISD board was going to allow a hybrid learning option that combined in-class and online curriculum.
“By following guidelines from Austin Public Health, the CDC and more, we’re confident we can safely reopen to all our students,” said Anthony Mays, AISD chief of schools. “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.”
AISD had asked Gov. Greg Abbott to consider virtual learning legislation during the upcoming Texas Legislature special session after House Bill 1468 didn’t get passed, but as COVID-19 cases decrease in the area, AISD officials think they can return to classrooms safely.
For many students, AISD said, it’ll be their first time back in a classroom setting in more than a year. More than 63% of elementary school students were in classrooms during the last week of school, 35% of middle school students were in class and just 9% of high school students were on campus.
“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,” Mays said.
Dr. Desmar Walkes, the local health authority for Austin-Travis County, is confident both students and staff can be in class safely next school year.
“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,” she said.
AISD has a website with resources and information about the upcoming school year that families can use as a guide to return to the classroom.