Summer Vision letter for 8/13/2020

Need to Know: Reopening Overview

This past week has been historic for Austin ISD. Firstly, we welcomed our new Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde. Additionally, since last Thursday, the district has changed the date of the first day of school and released a new draft plan for reopening. With all this it can be easy for families to lose track of where everything stands, so we wanted to outline some key facts:

  • The first day of school is now Sept. 8.
  • The first four weeks — from Sept. 8 to Oct. 5 — will be remote and families will not report to campus. If your student needs access to technology, please contact your campus. 
  • The next four weeks (Oct. 5 - 30) will be a phase-in period. Families will choose if they prefer on-campus or virtual learning for this period and families who prefer on-campus learning will be phased in. We will continue to base our campus and district operations on the advice of health authorities. It is important to note: even students who choose on-campus instruction may have some days where they are still doing remote learning during this period. 
  • Families will choose if they prefer on-campus or remote instruction within two weeks of returning to campuses via a form that will be sent to your email.
  • Austin ISD families will be able to choose to go back to remote learning based on their individual comfort level.

Families should read the reopening document for the most comprehensive overview of our plans to date. We will continue to communicate with you via email and the COVID-19 webpage as well.

Need to Know: On-Campus Safety Procedures

For when face-to-face learning does resume, AISD has outlined various guidelines for the 2020-2021 school year to ensure the health and well being of our students, parents, faculty and staff.

  • All staff and students of all ages in the district will be required to wear face masks, including those ages 6 and younger. This change was made using information and advice from health officials. The CDC recommends all people 2 years of age and older wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household. Accommodations will be made on a case-by-case basis by doctor approval. 
    • Individuals are encouraged to bring their own mask, but will be provided one if they are unable. 
  • Screening will be required for all students, staff and visitors prior to arrival on campus and in order to access AISD grounds. This includes temperature checks and answering a series of questions.
    • COVID-19 Screen and Go through the AISD mobile app is available to students, staff and visitors. If an employee, student or visitor cannot access the AISD mobile app, in-person screening stations are available at each campus. All students, staff and visitors that don’t pre-screen will be screened on arrival.
  • Disinfection stations will be provided at every entry point. Sanitizing stations will be available in key locations throughout every campus. Each station will include disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, masks and gloves.
  • AISD’s goal is for students to remain 6 feet apart during the school day. To further prevent the spread of germs, all desks will be turned to face the same direction (rather than facing each other), or have students sit on only one side of tables, spaced apart to ensure distancing.
  • Signs will be put in classrooms to help remind students of social distancing. Marked entrances and exits will also be displayed throughout campuses.
  • If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, you must stay home and contact your physician and supervisor/principal immediately.
  • There will be staging rooms that will be used by students who exhibit COVID-19-related symptom during the school day and need to wait to be picked up.

Good to Know: AISD Mobile App

Austin ISD is happy to announce the launch of our mobile app—a new way to stay connected.

The app will allow all AISD students, staff and families to receive notifications from the district and campuses for which they wish to subscribe.

Other helpful tools include a COVID-19 self-screening for users to complete before coming into contact with others or before leaving home for work or school.

The app allows for quick access to:

  • see the calendar for the current school year,
  • links to
    • Parent Cloud
    • Parent Self Serve
    • WheresTheBus
    • School Café,
    • the School Directory, and
    • the latest news.

Locate the free Austin ISD Mobile App in the digital store for your mobile device by searching for Austin ISD.

For questions concerning the new app, call 512–414–9187.

Get in the Know: Pulse Survey Data

Austin ISD staff has worked intentionally over the summer to provide up-to-date information needed for our families to make informed decisions for the upcoming school year. Two pulse surveys were completed this summer to get a sense of what our families were feeling as new information was released and the pandemic progressed in Central Texas. 

The first survey in June was focused on whether or not families would send their child back to a campus. Please keep in mind, the survey was completed prior to the COVID-19 cases increase in July. The survey, which had about a 35 percent response rate, showed about 70 percent of respondents were comfortable sending students back with or without conditions. 

As the summer and the pandemic progressed, a second pulse survey was conducted with understandably different results. The second survey closed Aug. 12, so final findings are not yet available. However, a snapshot of the results were presented to the Board of Trustees ahead of its vote to delay the first day of school. 

The snapshot showed that with a 35 percent response rate, 66 percent of respondents would prefer remote learning while 32 percent of respondents would prefer on-campus learning. Two percent of respondents indicated that they would not be returning to Austin ISD.

Within two weeks prior to the date that on-campus instruction will resume, families will be asked to select their preferred model for each child. Families will have the flexibility to change their choices as the school year progresses. As stated before, all models will be adjusted as needed based on guidance from federal, state and local governing bodies and local health conditions.

Edition 10, 8/13/2020
A publication by the AISD Dept. of Communications and Community Engagement