(Djmaschek/CC)

With COVID-19 cases surging in Travis County and a return to Stage 4 of Austin Public Health's risk-based guidelines, Austin ISD is considering a return to remote learning, according to an email sent to parents on Friday.


Austin ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said the district was "evaluating the option of temporarily transitioning to remote-only instruction" in the week following Thanksgiving and that a firm decision will be announced no later than Wednesday.

Elizalde added that after eight months of the pandemic the district has learned that sometimes health guidelines sometimes call for quick pivots. She also urged parents to have their children bring school supplies home with them today.

Her full statement is posted here.

Between Nov. 9 and Nov. 15, AISD reported more COVID-19 cases than any other school district in Travis County: nearly a quarter of total student cases and more than half of staff cases reported that week, according to Austin Public Health.

AISD also paused in-person learning at Austin High School on Nov. 16, resuming remote-only classes, after school officials grew concerned about the growing number of COVID-19 cases on campus.

AHS was only closed for three days; it was the first and only campus AISD closed again since opening back up. The school also offered drive-thru testing.

Austin-Travis County's COVID-19 dashboard shows that almost 4,500 children aged 1-19 have had the virus with no deaths, and local health officials have said the classroom setting is still safe for children. Most cases have been traced to extracurricular and social activities.

Hospitals in the Austin metro are reporting 79% occupancy, and officials are again sounding the alarm that area ICUs could soon be at capacity if residents don't take more precautions, especially over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County Public Health's interim health authority, said that if Austin isn't careful, "Thanksgiving is going to be bad and Christmas may look worse."

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