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Austin ISD returning entirely in person for 2021-22 school year

Nicole Miller, a first-grade teacher at Campbell Elementary in East Austin, teaches during the second day of in-person classes last October. Austin ISD will be fully in-person during the 2021-22 school year. (Bob Daemmrich)

Austin ISD is making the shift from hybrid learning to completely in-person for the 2021-22 school year.

AISD announced the decision on Thursday after state lawmakers failed to pass House Bill 1468, which would have allowed some virtual learning. Although the school district advocated for the bill, officials decided it is safe for students to return to the classroom in August given the current pandemic conditions.

"By following guidelines from Austin Public Health, the CDC and more, we're confident we can safely reopen to all of our students," Chief of Schools Anthony Mays said in a press release.

AISD officials signed a joint letter sent to Abbott on Wednesday, requesting that the Legislature take up HB 1468 during the upcoming special session, which has not been set.

During the final weeks of classes, which ended June 3, about two-thirds of elementary school students and one-third of middle school students were choosing on-campus learning, but fewer than 10% of high school students were, according to the district.

When the upcoming school year starts, it will be the first time in over a year that tens of thousands of students return to the classroom. "We know that this will be a big shift for our students, so we're committed to doing everything possible to help them in that regard," Mays said.

Masks have been optional at all AISD campuses since mid-May, when Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting government entities mandating masks. But the district strongly encourages unvaccinated individuals to wear a mask while on campus.


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