Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott ordered all public and private schools within Austin and Travis County not to reopen for on-campus, face-to-face instruction until after Sept. 7. Virtual instruction is allowed.
"This order includes appropriate control measures based on the higher risk for spread of COVID-19 in schools due to the necessity of large groups gathering in indoor spaces and the difficulty for children to follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines," Dr. Escott said in a press release issued Tuesday.
Schools are also required to develop and submit reopening plans to Dr. Escott—and make them public—at least two weeks before resuming any in-person activities.
Dr. Escott said continuity will be a challenge for schools as faculty and staff get sick with COVID-19, "as we see every year with influenza."
Austin City Council approved an ordinance last week granting the health authority the right to adopt rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through Nov. 12.
The order arrived shortly after Austin ISD announced it would suspend in-person education for the first three weeks of the upcoming school year—or until Sept. 7—due to the pandemic.
Other school districts, including Round Rock ISD and San Antonio ISD, did the same.
Even though the case fatality rate among children is very low, there still is a risk of death, Dr. Escott told Travis County commissioners on Tuesday. He estimated between 40 and 1,370 children aged 10 to 19 could die from COVID-19 across Travis County's five public school districts.
Additionally, teachers and staff are at a much higher risk of contracting and dying from the virus.
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Nicklaus Pereksta says he loves photographing enthusiastic people, and it’s why his latest gig offering pictures to people out on Lady Bird Lake’s hike and bike trail is going smoothly. He sets up his gear on the Pfluger pedestrian bridge and puts out a sign: Photos, $10.
“Overwhelmingly, this has been a really positive experience,” Pereksta said. “I get excited when I wake up in the morning and I can't wait to go to work.”
Bikers and joggers are excited about it too. On the pedestrian bridge leading to downtown Thursday morning, a man on an e-bike rode up and posed, wanting more photos.
“I posted the last pictures on Instagram and people loved it. They asked, ‘where is this guy?’” the biker told Pereksta. Bashfully, Pereksta, who also photographs landscapes and at weddings and other events, said he was happy to hear that.
Pereksta started these photos about a month ago, after the strenuous runs required in his valet job started causing pain in his legs. And though he has a passion for photography, he wasn’t so sure when he started working independently if it would work out.
He felt uncertain about the demand for it and was also worried about having lots of expensive equipment out in the open.
“Then like the first day was nothing but high praise and people are like, this is so awesome. This is great. I've never seen anything like this before. I was like, Wow, this was really good, like positive turnout. So I got encouraged.”
Now, he wants to expand and is thinking of contacting the Mueller Farmers Market about how to become a vendor. Still, he'll carry a connection to photographing on the bridge since the word bridge is related to his last name.
“It's a name my great, great, great grandfather came up with when he was marrying somebody. It's actually quite a romantic name. It means a joining of two bridges," Pereksta said. "So, I thought it was ironic that I'm set up on a bridge. I'm kind of representing my last name right now.”
Austonia talked to Pereksta about life in Austin, where he’s lived for eight years after living in Boston doing band photography.
What was your first experience with Austin?
I came here to visit some friends and they took me to Barbarella. So we went to Barbarella and I was like, ‘wow, this place is great.’ And then the restaurants and the food and going to Barton Springs. I was like, ‘this is amazing.’ Because there's nothing like that in Boston. If you want to go to a natural spring, you got to go to New Hampshire. There's no pools in the city at all. So there's lots of swimming out here.
What do you like best about Austin?
You go to any little quiet bar and there's a band playing that should be like onstage for a sold out show. Yeah, they're playing to 10 people, right? Like, one of the best bands ever and they're playing for 10 people, right? And just little magic moments like that are pretty fun. You just run into little random weird things.
What do you think makes Austin different from other places?
There’s no fall.
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