Austin ISD updates reopening plan for schools

Austin ISD has released a new updated plan for reopening its schools.

The new school year is set to start on Tuesday, Sept. 8 with the first four weeks of school being virtual. 

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The district says it will begin phasing students back to campus starting Oct. 6 through Nov. 2. Only those who have chosen to return for on-campus learning will come back to campus. 

Families will receive a survey later this month with learning options for when the first four weeks of virtual learning are up. The options will be to continue remote learning, to transition to on-campus learning, or for high school students, a mix of both.

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AISD says students will be able to transition from remote off-campus learning to on-campus learning as soon as possible after communicating with their campus, but not to exceed five school days. Students will be able to transition from on-campus to remote off-campus learning when they choose to do so. A transition period will not be required after parents/guardians communicate their decision with their campus.

Austin ISD says the plan can change based on local health conditions.

In addition to this, Austin ISD will be required all students, visitors, and staff to screen for COVID-19 symptoms and do a temperature check before coming to campus each day. The district strongly encourages self-screening with the Austin ISD mobile app.

In the app, users will answer a series of screening questions, and based on the responses, the app will display either a green ✓ or a red X. Upon arriving on campus, staff, students, and visitors will show their results and will be allowed to enter if a green ✓  is displayed and their temperature taken at the entrance is below 100.0. If a staff member, student, or visitor receives a red X, they must stay at home. Parents/guardians will be able to show screening results for their students.

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For staff, students, and visitors not able to access the app, on-site screening will be available and required. When possible, in-person health screenings for students and visitors will take place while they are in their vehicles. 

The district will also be requiring all students, both elementary and secondary, staff and visitors to wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose while on Austin ISD grounds. 



Staff and students are encouraged to bring their own reusable cloth masks/face masks, which must be washed daily. Bandanas and face masks with air vents will not be allowed.

Austin ISD will provide a face mask to students, staff, service providers, and approved visitors who arrive without one.  Face shields may not be worn in place of a face mask but can be worn in addition to a mask. Accommodations will be made on a case-by-case basis for students and staff.

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The district also made changes to its transportation and meal service plans.

Students will be required to wear masks while on the bus and the maximum allowable seating will be one per seat whenever possible. Students will be seated by the window when possible and will load starting at the rear of the bus and unload from the front. Only eligible students will be allowed to ride their assigned buses due to capacity.

The district will also encourage families to drop students off, carpool, or walk with their students to school if possible. Buses will also be thoroughly cleaned after each trip with a focus on high touch surfaces, such as seats, steering wheels, knobs, and door handles.

The district says that for the 2020-21 school year, breakfast and lunch will be served in the classroom at all district schools. Protocols for safe and sanitary meal service will also be put in place, including:

  • Require food service staff to have their temperature checked and go through a health screening each day
  • Require food services staff to wear face masks and gloves during all food preparation and service
  • Ensure teachers and staff assisting with meal distribution in the classroom wear face masks 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 by students and staff before and after meal service (hand sanitizer may be used when soap and water is not available)
  • 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 masks on
  • Allow classes to eat outdoors when facilities and weather permitting
  • Do not allow sharing of desks/tables or food 
  • Do not allow saving of perishable food items for consumption at a later time

All Austin ISD students participating in remote off-campus or on-campus learning will receive free school meals through Dec. 18. The district will continue to provide free meals for any child under 19, or those over the age of 19 using special education resources or currently enrolled in school to complete the requirements for a high school diploma. Austin ISD will continue to run curbside service at some locations for students who remain 100% remote if needed. 

To see the updated version of Austin ISD's reopening plans, click here

For more on how Central Texas schools are handling the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.


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