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Austin ISD delays school start to Sept. 8, will ask for 8 weeks online-only

The Austin Independent School Board delayed the school year to Sept. 8 in an early-Friday vote, giving teachers three more weeks to prepare for online learning and the community more time to see a drop in COVID-19 cases before students, faculty and staff return to the classroom.


The first four weeks of classes will be virtual-only for most of the district's 80,100 students, with exceptions made for students who don't have access to the required technology, but the board also voted to ask the Texas Education Agency to allow up to four more - potentially delaying full access to the district's 130 campuses until early November.

If granted, the board stipulated, the waiver "would serve as a period where students who selected on-campus instruction may return to on-campus learning in phased-in smaller groups." Families were asked to choose between in-person or online, with the option for virtual-only students to switch to on-campus classes after the first grading period.

The Thursday night virtual meeting lasted more than six hours and drew hundreds of community members, teachers and staff who called in to comment, with the vote happening past 3 a.m. on Friday.

On its agenda documents for the meeting, the district cited "local health conditions," the need for teacher training and the fact that COVID-19 disproportionately affects the Hispanic community, represented by a third of teachers and more than half of the district's students.

The district said staff and faculty will see no reduction in pay and in most cases, no change in pay schedule. The last day of the school year was pushed to June 3, 2021.

On Monday, Education Austin, the union representing 3,000 AISD employees, asked the district to consider pushing back the official first day of school, which Gov. Greg Abbott said was within the rights of local districts, not health officials.

AISD posted this document with frequently asked questions, updated July 30, about attendance, enrollment, class size and more during the upcoming school year.

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