Lake Travis school board requests extended virtual learning period, but some students can return sooner
The Lake Travis ISD board of trustees voted 4-3 on Monday evening to approve a waiver request to the Texas Education Agency to extend the virtual learning period an additional four weeks, with exceptions for families who meet certain conditions and choose to return sooner.
Families with students in pre-K, elementary, 6th grade, 9th grade and special education programs, as well as LTISD district employees with children in the district, may decide to return to in-person schooling as of Sept. 8. The remainder will have the option to return in person as of Sept. 21.
Parents spoke overwhelmingly in support of reopening during the public comment portion of the special called meeting.
Jason Blair, whose three triplets are kindergarteners, urged the board to defy Austin-Travis Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott's recommendation that schools take a phased-in approach to reopening.
"These are such small numbers," Blair said of the COVID-19 case fatality rate among school-age children. "And yes, one kid means a lot, but there's more to this."
Escott cited preliminary data in July that suggested between 40 and 1,370 of Travis County's 192,000 school-age children could die from COVID-19 if schools reopen too quickly. In recent weeks, he has said there is too little data to know what will happen if children return to school and that districts have to weigh the cost of virtual learning against intermittent closures if schools reopen only to see outbreaks emerge.
The TEA allows schools to extend their virtual period for some students up to eight weeks without losing funding, so long as the second four-week period involves "at least some on campus instruction" each day. Once the eight-week period is completed, school districts are required to provide on-campus learning to any families who choose it.
About 60% of LTISD families have indicated that they would like to return to in-person learning on campus, a district spokesperson confirmed to Austonia.
Parents organized a prayer circle outside of the building where the meeting was held, with at least some attendees praying for reopening, according to a report by KXAN.
Kristin Hall told board members that her second grader had sought counseling as a result of school closures.
"You can't form those relationships [with teachers] over a Chromebook," she said. "They need to be in-person. They need that relationship."
Jose Cantu, another parent, said he is concerned about the education gap, especially for Latino students, and that teachers should be considered essential workers.
"If ultimately they feel that the risk is too high, then I suggest they find another career," he said.
More than two-thirds of LTISD's 10,695 students were white during the 2018-19 school year, compared to 27.4% statewide. Just over 12% of their students were economically disadvantaged, compared to more than 60% statewide, and 6% were enrolled in bilingual or ESL programs, compared to nearly 20% statewide.
- Texas health experts forecast surge in school reopening - austonia ›
- Two different school districts start educating in a pandemic - austonia ›
- Austin health authority delays school reopening - austonia ›
- Austin ISD delays in-person school for 3 weeks - austonia ›
- Austin ISD should delay school or risk 40-1,000 deaths - austonia ›
- Many Texas students will return to classrooms Tuesday - austonia ›
- Austin ISD reports enrollment drop due to virtual learning - austonia ›
- Penny Swap proposal pays off to tune of $3.3M for Eanes ISD - austonia ›
Austin FC couldn't find the stamina to fight off a 2-0 loss against LAFC for their inaugural match on Saturday.
The match, which saw No. 21 Austin FC go head-to-head with No. 2 LAFC in Los Angeles, was broadcast nationally on FOX and FOX Deportes.
Eleven players took the stage as Austin FC players for the first time, with five starters making their MLS debut. "Ringleader" Alex Ring took the captain's armband and wore it well. The defensive midfielder could be seen leading his teammates through their first ever match, but it wasn't enough to stage an Austin takeover in LA.
As Austin FC took the stage for their first-ever match, they appeared more experienced than their track record. The club held LAFC to a scoreless first half, keeping about equal possession of the ball.
In the signature style of Head Coach Josh Wolff, the team played with quickness and intensity, nearly connecting on several fast breaks.
The club was given some generous breaks from No. 2 LAFC, who had one or both of their star DPs out for the half. While forward Diego Rossi is out for the entire match due to a hamstring injury, Carlos Vela was accidentally pulled too soon on what turned out to be a miscommunication.
"He gave us the sign that he needed to come off," LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said on broadcast. "I can't say more than maybe it's my fault."
LA pulled some dramatics and slowly gained more possession throughout the half, but ATXFC's defense wasn't initially as shaky as it seemed in preseason. Jhohan Romana has pulled his weight in getting the ball out of goal, and a 34-year old Matt Besler held his own in center back.
As the second half commenced, however, it became clear that LAFC had the advantage over Austin's first major league team.
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver had his work cut out for him, fending off 24 shot attempts, 11 of which were on goal.
LAFC finally connected in the 61st minute of play as Corey Baird shot one into the bottom right corner. The team capitalized off their momentum and put one past Stuver a second time, drawing roars of approval from the LAFC crowd.
While some last-minute attempts from Jon Gallagher and others were made, Austin FC didn't have the endurance to bring a tie. After seven additional minutes of stoppage time, the club lost their first match 2-0.
It's matchday! Austin FC—Austin's first major league sport team—kicks off its debut season in Los Angeles today after years in the making. We know how much this means to our beloved city and are taking you along with us as we journey to LA!
Austin FC writer Claire Partain and I are excited to bring you game-day coverage straight from the City of Angels. Check back here for updates, and visit our socials: @austonianews for the latest.
~7 p.m: Austin FC loses to LAFC
A sad outcome for many, Austin FC was defeated by their competitor. Check out Claire's recap for a full rundown of what this game looked like: https://austonia.com/halftime-austin-fc-debut.
Until next time, Austin!
5 p.m: Kickoff!
It's finally here! Claire will be updating Austonia's Twitter account live. And we'll post her game recap after the game. Best of luck Verdes!
4:40 p.m: Excitement radiates back home
Watch parties are in plenty supply back home. Austonia's Laura Figi visited Circle Brewing Co. and found a crowd of excited supporters.
4:20 p.m: Austin FC supporters are in the stadium
Although the Banc of California Stadium is hosting the match at limited capacity, we see some green in the stands ahead of kickoff. Just moments away from the Austin FC's debut!
~3:20 p.m: Austin FC's team bus enters the stadium grounds
With a warm welcome from Los Verdes, Austin FC players were welcomed into the Banc of California Stadium.
~1 p.m: Los Verdes in LA
(Rigo Rodriguez/Los Verdes)
Austin FC supporters are making their presence known in LA, including the Los Verdes group.
Los Verdes members started having match-day fun around the area this morning with brunch. We'll be joining them about an hour before the game outside the stadium to share some of their excitement. We'll post immediately to Austonia's Instagram.
11:45 a.m: We landed!
View from hotel room where we're staying; the stadium digital sign can be seen in the right corner. (Sonia Garcia/Austonia)
Switching over to pacific time, we're here and it's almost like no time went by. It's 9:45 a.m. here.
We've been in contact with Los Verdes, an Austin FC supporter group, who is also here in LA counting down to kickoff.
8:20 a.m: LA bound
Like many of you, we've been looking forward to this moment for, let's just say, a very long time. Today, we woke up bright and early, headed to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and hopped on a flight to LA.
A gloomy day in Austin with a very quiet airport, we're headed to sunny skies in California.
As we wait for the game to start at 4:30 p.m., check out Claire's preview of the game with a predicted lineup and timeline of the long journey to get here.