(Pexels)

Amid the potential for layoffs, hundreds of Austin ISD teachers plan not to attend in-person classes Monday despite district plans to end virtual learning for most students and staff.


About 850 AISD teachers have pledged not to perform on-site work Monday, opting instead to teach virtually only, The Austin American-Statesman reports. However, less than half of all staff has reportedly been approved for accommodations protecting against COVID-19.

Education Austin, the union representing AISD teachers and staff, is leading the organized walkout.

"Teachers will not knowingly lead their students into a harmful environment," said Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin, in an interview this week with The Austin Chronicle.

But plans to return to schools comes from a state-led directive, which granted districts the chance to delay in-person instruction until early October. Austin's own interim health director, Dr. Mark Escott, told AISD board members that he believes the school district's reopening plan is safe.

Zarifis acknowledged to The Chronicle that Education Austin's anticipated actions Monday are drastic and unprecedented so far in the state of Texas. However, the organization included the need for employee accommodations in its original list of demands for reopening mid-pandemic.

"It is not a strike, as people are suggesting," he told The Chronicle. "We are not refusing to work, we are not stopping work."

District officials have not said publicly what ramifications for staff who do not show up to work Monday might be. Multiple teachers told the Statesman they may lose their jobs because they weren't granted waivers to avoid in-person attendance.

AISD is already battling a $51.4 million shortfall because of reduced enrollment, potentially resulting in hundreds of staff layoffs. Chief Business Officer Larry Throm told the AISD board of trustees the district will have to consider laying off as many as 232 teachers—which would lead to about $30 million in savings—as well as cutting costs elsewhere.

"We cannot save our way by letting teachers go," he said.

More on schools:

Austin ISD enrollment decline could lead to 232 teacher layoffs
(Anna Moneymaker/Pool via REUTERS)

By Abby Livingston

WASHINGTON — With the support of Texas' two senators, the U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court in a 52-48 vote Monday evening.

Keep Reading Show less
(Emma Freer)

The Texas Army National Guard dispatched troops to the state Capitol in June amid protests over the death of George Floyd.

The Texas Army National Guard said Monday that it had been ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott to dispatch 1,000 troops to five major cities across the state, including Austin, in connection with the election.

Keep Reading Show less

Cold weather is finally hitting Austin, which means it's time to enjoy staying at home and bundling up with some cozy meals.

If you haven't become the cook of your dreams since the pandemic hit, now is the perfect time to try out these recipes which will surely warm your belly.

Keep Reading Show less
(CC)

The future of Hancock Golf Course in Central Austin has drawn strong neighborhood interest.

Two virtual community meetings scheduled Monday and Thursday about the future of Hancock Golf Course have been canceled because too many people signed up to attend.

Keep Reading Show less
(Laura Figi/Austonia)

The Central Austin Public Library, located on 710 W. César Chávez St., was vandalized with red paint this morning.

Keep Reading Show less
Minister of Culture Matthew McConaughey talks preserving Austin culture on Joe Rogan podcast

Academy-award winning actor Matthew McConaughey explains his goals for Austin, in his role as the minister of culture of the University of Texas, and what it means to be an Austinite on Joe Rogan's podcast.

Keep Reading Show less
(Peter Svensk/Flickr)

A second, stronger cold front is expected to hit tonight—bringing chilly weather through at least the rest of the week and rainy weather through Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less