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Austin schools are seeing major absences due to COVID. (Bob Daemmrich)

Days into the spring semester, Austin school districts are struggling with low attendance from students and teachers as the omicron variant sweeps through the city.

Austin ISD reported 384 substitute requests and just under 84% attendance on Wednesday, the first day of the spring semester. This time last year, the same district saw 293 substitute requests and a little more than 94% attendance.

With 75,000 kids enrolled at AISD, a 16% absence would have been 12,000 students. AISD was able to fill 220 of its substitute requests and has contingency plans in place in case of high teacher absences, which officials say includes deploying staff from the central office.

The district secured an agreement with employee union Education Austin to bring in teachers when a campus is unable to find a sub.

Meanwhile in Leander ISD, where classes resumed on Tuesday, 242 staff members were out due to COVID and 136 substitute teachers were needed in the first two days. The district has 40,000 students and 5,600 employees.

The district has been struggling with filling substitutes since the pandemic began and can normally fill about half the positions, according to district spokesman Matt Mitchell.

LISD is currently operating under its yellow protocols, which recommend but do not require mask-wearing. In the red stage, masks are required indoors.

Lake Travis ISD is struggling to keep up with school transportation due to a bus driver shortage.


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