AUSTIN, Texas - Austin ISD has released a new version of its reopening plans Tuesday ahead of its September start date.
The school board voted recently to push the start of school back to September 8 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current plan is to start the beginning of the school year with virtual learning until October 5.
During that time, any student without access to the technology necessary for remote learning may choose to attend class on campus or receive paper instructional packets if their parents prefer they learn from home.
Austin ISD says they are currently in the process of purchasing and preparing 24,000 iPads for students in Pre-K through second grade, in addition to the Chromebooks they provided to all students in grades 3-12 in the spring. AISD has also purchased 10,000 WiFi hotspots for families without access to the internet.
For the month of October, campuses will phase in all students who choose on-campus learning; however, Austin ISD says that this is subject to change based on health conditions at that time.
Two weeks before on-campus instruction is set to resume, families will get to choose their preferred model for each child and will have the flexibility to change this choice as the school year progresses.
Remote instruction will be both synchronous and asynchronous depending on the grade level and course.
Also in the reopening plans are guidelines concerning UIL sports, fine arts, and on- and off-campus activities. AISD says due to COVID-19, all Austin ISD marching bands will suspend all competitive activities for the fall 2020 season.
Austin ISD says child care for infants, toddlers and school children will be available at many campuses with most resuming when school begins. Financial assistance will also be available for families who need it.
Visitors to campus will be limited to those essential to school operations, otherwise, virtual meetings will be used whenever possible. Campuses will also provide curbside services for drop-off and pick-up of materials and supplies for students.
The following guidelines will be in place for visitors who do come in the building:
- All visitors will be required to wear a face-covering
- All visitors will be required to screen for COVID-19
- If visitors have COVID-19 symptoms, or are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, they must remain off campus until they meet the criteria for returning to a school building or other district facility
- Parent visits will be limited; lunch visits, dropping off student supplies, materials, and personal items, and observing in a classroom are not considered essential visits at this time
- After passing the screening and upon entering a school building, visitors must stop at the front office and stand behind the plexiglass shield when speaking with office staff
- Volunteers are not allowed to visit campuses at this time
- Central office staff must limit their school visits to one school per day and are discouraged from visiting classrooms
- Approved partners and providers of direct student services or a specified district function must limit their school visits to one school per day
All staff, students, and visitors will be required to screen each day for COVID-19 symptoms before coming to campus. Students, staff, and visitors may choose to self-screen with the Austin ISD app, which will include a temperature check and a series of screening questions. For those without access to the app, on-site screening will be available and required.
Staff and secondary students screened on-site will be screened by having their temperatures taken and answering a set of questions. Elementary students screened on-site will be screened by having their temperatures taken only.
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Anyone who replies yes to any of the screening questions will be sent home immediately or required to stay home until they meet the following criteria for returning to campus:
Symptom-Based Criteria (must meet all three criteria to return):
- At least 1 day (24 hours) has passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications
- The individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath)
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
The individual can also return to campus if they receive a negative COVID-19 test result. Anyone who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19, but is asymptomatic, may return to campus after meeting ONE of the following criteria:
- 10 days have passed since receiving a positive COVID-19 test result
- Receive a negative COVID-19 test result
All students, staff and visitors will be required to wear face coverings, regardless of grade level. For students in second grade and below, they will be required at least to wear a face shield, but a face mask can be worn instead. Students in third grade and above must wear face masks that fully cover the nose and mouth.
Bandanas and face masks with air vents will not be allowed. Anyone who forgets a mask will be provided a face mask or shield by the district.
Austin ISD says its transportation scheduling team is working with campuses to coordinate bus routes based on capacity and need with safety in mind. Bus procedures will:
- ● Follow local health authority, state, and CDC guidance and recommendations
- Adhere to Austin ISD’s Protocol/Precautions for COVID-19
- Require all students to wear a face-covering
- Maximum allowable seating will be two per seat and the seat behind the driver will be closed
- Provide hand sanitizer stations on buses
- Implement procedures for health check of employees
- Require that bus teams always wear a face covering while operating a school bus
- Load the students starting at the rear of the bus, and unload starting from the front
- Allow only eligible students to ride their assigned buses due to capacity
- Keep windows open as much as possible
- Thoroughly clean buses after each bus trip, focusing on high touch surfaces such as bus seats, steering wheels, knobs, and door handles; during cleaning, windows will be opened to allow for additional ventilation and airflow
For meal service, protocols include:
- Require food service staff to have their temperature checked and go through a health screening each day
- Require food services staff to wear facial coverings and gloves during all food preparation and service
- Ensure teachers and staff assisting with meal distribution in the classroom wear facial coverings and gloves
- Deliver breakfast and pre-packed lunches in coolers outside of the classroom to avoid additional staff entering the classroom space
- Implement handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds or hand sanitizing by students and staff before and after meal service
- Sanitize the food serving table prior to, during, and after each meal service
- Maintain 6-ft social distance between staff and students during meal service whenever feasible
- Provide desk shields for student use while eating without mask on
- Do not allow sharing of desks/tables or food
- Do not allow saving of perishable food items for consumption at a later time
Austin ISD says it will continue to run curbside service at some locations for students who remain 100% remote, if needed.
READ THE FULL REOPENING PLANS BELOW:
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