AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Independent School District is hosting two virtual listening sessions May 27th and May 28th. The district lists two ways the public can participate. One is by calling their comment line and leaving a pre-recorded message the second is to register in advance to participate in the live discussion.
East Austin community leaders held a press conference Tuesday to discuss concerns from parents who say they feel like they have been left out of the discussion. The district closed its doors due to health concerns brought on by COVID-19. Since then students have turned to virtual classrooms to finish up the year.
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Bertha Rendon Delgado expressed how stressful it’s been as a parent to navigate online learning to assist her son. As a community leader she’s surveyed multiple parents whose children are lost through remote learning.
“We are overwhelmed. It's too much for us to process. How do we know our kids are learning? How do we know our kids are going to pass the TAAS test?” said Delgado.
During the pandemic, the district organized Chromebook pick-up locations and coordinated school buses with wifi to park in areas where students are shown to need it the most. However, Delgado said there are still families who don’t have access to online tools.
“Some homes do not have wifi or internet access, some parents like myself and the generation above me and elders do not know how to navigate the systems,” Delgado said.
How much longer students and parents will have to navigate remote learning is unclear. The district has developed a “re-entry task force” made up of internal staff and community members to evaluate possibilities of reopening which include delaying or starting school early and limiting in-person instruction to 25 percent capacity. An AISD spokesperson said once plans are formed they will present them to the community.
“We are scared as parents, what are our kids going to have to face?” said Delgado. “There is no transparency in what they are doing. It's a big gap and we have to fix that.”
Delgado said without in-person community engagement meetings, parents are left in the dark. She’d like to see more discussions between parents and district leaders on what parents can expect to see in the fall.
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