AUSTIN, Texas - Austin ISD will remain closed "for an indefinite period of time," says superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz.
Cruz made the announcement in a letter, saying that Austin ISD's 129 campus buildings will remain closed "as part of the district's ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19."
"Today’s announcement is intended to give parents and educators as much certainty as possible so families can make decisions and plan," Cruz said in the letter. "While this is not the outcome we wanted for the close of the 2019-2020 school year, I am grateful for your partnership in our efforts to best prepare students for when our campuses reopen."
Austin ISD canceled classes March 13 and extended their Spring Break just hours after city leaders confirmed the first cases of coronavirus in the Austin-Travis County area.
In addition to the closures, Austin ISD announced changes to their plan to provide meals while campuses are closed. The district says due to Texas Department of Agriculture policy changes, they will no longer be providing weekend meals.
"Meal distribution on Friday will consist of a breakfast and a lunch for each student," says the district. "For food assistance on the weekends, we advise that you reach out to the Central Texas Food Bank."
READ THE FULL LETTER BELOW:
Dear Austin ISD Family,
Campus closures are never ideal, but there is nothing more important than the safety and health of our students, staff and families. With this in mind, I have determined that our 129 campus buildings will remain closed for an indefinite period of time, as part of the district’s ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19.
This extension to the previously announced closure, is a cautious and necessary action considering our wide-ranging community efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
We are pleased to be offering many options that teachers have for content delivery, including take-home and virtual learning opportunities. You can read specifics about this in an earlier letter sent to families and staff this week at: https://www.austinisd.org/covid19/communications. I am convinced that with the guidance of our amazing staff, our students and their families will successfully remain engaged through Continuous Learning. In this new and unprecedented environment, we will continue to further define the roles of students, teachers, and families.
Also, know that we are collaborating with private and public sector partners to ensure geographic areas lacking Internet connectivity are addressed. I am #AISDproud of the fact that between our previously distributed mobile devices, those that we have recently distributed and those we have a plan to distribute in the coming days, nearly 51,000 students will be assisted with technology to support Continuous Learning.
The continued separation from our campus communities may be challenging for students. As important as ongoing learning is, what is even more important is caring for the whole child with special consideration taken through Social Emotional Learning. Take time to talk to your children and process what is happening together. It’s okay to acknowledge and get their thoughts on the fact that we are in a much different place and time than we were last week, last month and even a year ago. It will take time to work through the many emotions of this shift in our day-to-day life, but with this decision, we are doing our best to stay apart now, so we can be together again soon–as an AISD Family.
Today’s announcement is intended to give parents and educators as much certainty as possible so families can make decisions and plan. While this is not the outcome we wanted for the close of the 2019-2020 school year, I am grateful for your partnership in our efforts to best prepare students for when our campuses reopen.
Again, to engage with us further, I ask you to share your thoughts with us at: https://my.thoughtexchange.com/#498310266/hub
Health and safety is our number one priority. We will continue to work closely with public health officials to make the best decisions for our school communities.
Paul Cruz, PhD
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