AUSTIN, Texas - COVID-19 has made its way to Central Texas, causing many businesses and agencies to shut down, at least for now. As of Monday, that includes Austin ISD.
“Austin ISD will cancel all classes from Monday, Mar. 23 through Friday, April 3,” said superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz.
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Teachers and staff will have the option to work from home, and will still receive their pay. “On March 23, before that time, you will receive information about telework opportunities and be available. Now that does not mean to come to work, to come to the facility,” said Cruz.
They say their decision is based on the move from the City of Austin to ban gatherings of 250 people or more through May 1.
The goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19. “Our hope is that our parents, teacher, and staff can plan ahead, protect themselves, their families and proactively be a part of reducing the spread of COVID-19,” said Geronimo Rodriguez, president of the Austin ISD Board of Trustees.
Parent and teachers’ union president Ken Zarifis said the move was a necessary and wise decision by the district.
“I was glad to know early in the spring break they were going to do it. We anticipated it happening and hoping it would happen. I think we are in uncharted territory and we have to have the resolve to enter into it. We can't just sit and wait,” said Zarifis.
But how will this affect learning and graduation?
“I do think there will be an impact. What's that going to be, I don’t know yet. But our intent is to make sure students are still meeting promotion standards and still graduating,” said Cruz.
The announcement comes after Gov. Greg Abbott said STAAR testing requirements will be waived. On a call with legislators and school officials Sunday, education commissioner Mike Morath said long-term closures are very possible. The decision to close is still up to each district.
“I do want to just make sure we are clear for parents and guardians, it may go longer,” said Cruz.
During this time, parents should be prepared for possible remote learning for their kids. Additionally, Austin ISD will continue to provide breakfast and lunch to students under 19. For more information, click here.