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As some children gear up to head back to school, many parents are wondering what to expect next with their child's learning.
For Ashley McGuire, mother of 6-year-old Mason, in-person schooling can't come quickly enough. The online process, she said, is lonely and has been frustrating for everyone in the family.
"I'm not equipped to be a school teacher," McGuire said. "I never wanted to be a school teacher. My kid is struggling. He needs structure, and he needs better advice than I can give him."
Mason working on his e-learning assignments from home. (Photo courtesy of Ashley McGuire)
Mason will attend first grade online through the first nine-week grading period of the year, returning to his Lake Travis elementary school during the second nine weeks, a choice the family made because McGuire has concerns about him getting sick at school.
"Your kids are not always as good as teachers say they are," McGuire said. "It's very difficult to have them keep (their mask) on, especially properly, you know, over the nose and all that stuff. I mean, they're kids. They pick their noses, for goodness sakes."
As some schools and districts are opening their doors for the fall semester, health professionals are nervous about COVID-19 cases in classrooms.
Dr. Stanley Spinner, vice president and chief medical officer at Texas Children's Pediatrics and Texas Children's Urgent Care, said there is no practical way to test every student returning to school and many doctors expect rates to spike in October as a result.
"Those that may be asymptomatic are certainly going to have the capacity to infect those around them," Spinner said. "We know that someone is just as likely to infect another person whether they are asymptomatic or symptomatic if they have COVID, so that's one of the reasons we expect rates to go up again as we get kids into class."
Detecting whether or not someone has the flu or COVID-19 is going to be more difficult as flu season approaches, as the two viruses have similar symptoms.
Spinner said very few children require hospitalization for COVID-19. In fact, many more children are hospitalized for the flu, but getting a flu shot can greatly decrease the need for medical care.
"What most people don't understand is... that vaccine works exceedingly well to prevent the vast majority of those infected individuals from getting sick enough to be in the hospital," Spinner said. "The vaccine is critical when it comes to minimizing the severity of the illness of influenza."
Spinner said getting a flu vaccine is uniquely important this year to help reduce the strain on hospitals and healthcare workers.
"If we start seeing a lot of flu in the community and we're starting to see more COVID because of school starting, we would really worry that we're going to see a lot more adults and children hospitalized, which would put a much bigger strain on hospitals (and) medical care personnel," Spinner said. "(COVID-19 and the flu) together could cause a lot of problems."
Spinner said the best way to prevent spreading and becoming infected with COVID-19 or the flu is to wear a mask and maintain social distancing.
"Wear a mask anytime you're around other people, especially when you're inside," Spinner said. "When you're around groups of people, you should be wearing a mask. Period. That's the number one best preventative."
In the meantime, McGuire said she and her son are adjusting to new habits to protect others around them, such as wearing masks and frequently sanitizing their hands anytime they go out.
"We're all navigating this together," McGuire said. "I think everybody's doing the best they can with what they have."
More on schools:
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- Austin sees uptick in new COVID cases among 10-19 age group ... ›
- Flu season: Austin health officials are focused on vaccines - austonia ›
After a long, long year without live music, Austin has waited patiently for a return that has finally come. Festivals are planning returns and even venues that adhered strictly to safety protocols during the pandemic are feeling safe enough to gather again in person.
Starting in just a few short days, you can finally enjoy what makes Austin, well, Austin again. Here are a few of the live shows to look forward to.
Stubb's Waller Creek, 801 Red River Street
For the first time since the pandemic shut the iconic venue down forcing canceled and rescheduled shows, Stubb's BBQ is reopening its amphitheater to the public for concerts starting with a series of five sold-out Black Pumas shows, each with different openers, from May 26-30. It may be too late to catch Black Pumas this time around but Stubb's already has a host of other shows scheduled up through December. You can catch Surfaces, a College Station-based jazz-pop-hip-hop and vocals heavy duo known best for their song "Sunday Best," on Stubb's Stage on June 25 while tickets go on sale this Friday.
Next at Stubb's is electronic duo Louis the Child on July 28 and 29 on their "Euphoria Tour," followed by Umphrey's McGee on Sept. 9.
Mohawk Austin, 912 Red River Street
Likewise, Mohawk Austin has remained closed for more than a year since the onset of COVID-19, even tweeting "Thanks bro but we ain't gonna do it till it's safe," in response to Gov. Greg Abbott lifting all safety restrictions back in March. Starting May 27, Mohawk is officially back with Heartless Bastards and opener The Tender Things.
From there, Mohawk has an exciting lineup—Jukebox the Ghost will play on Sept. 10, Bully and opener Lightning Bug on Sept. 17, Big Freedia and Too Many Zooz on Oct. 4 and Beach Bunny on Dec. 14, with several talented artists in-between. Keep checking back though, Mohawk will continue to add shows and is currently planning on operating at 50%.
Frank Erwin Center, 1701 Red River Street
Though it is making a later comeback than Stubb's or Mohawk, the Frank Erwin Center will make a huge return on Aug. 14 featuring Tame Impala. If you missed their highly popular set at Austin City Limits Festival in 2019 or you want to relive it, this is the chance to do so. Plus, you get the added benefit of being able to see the stage, though you will still be watching with around 16,000 other spectators. Michael Bublé will have you swooning when he comes to perform on Sept. 20 and Chris Stapleton is taking his "All American Road Show" live on Nov. 4.
Nutty Brown Amphitheatre, 12225 US-290
Holding some socially distanced concerts earlier this year, the Nutty Brown Amphitheatre isn't stopping there with rap artist Ginger Billy playing two sets on May 7. Nutty Brown has a star-studded lineup ahead: Austin-based Bob Schneider on May 8 and other Austin favorite Shinyribs will grace the stage May 29. A little further down the line, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts will take over on Aug. 21 followed by Styx on Oct. 23.
Texas Performing Arts Center, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
If you prefer a little bit more visual appeal to go with your music, the Texas Performing Arts Center is reopening in-person after consistent online events. First up is Cody Ko and Noel Miller, a multi-hyphenated YouTuber-podcaster-comedian duo, who will perform their "Tiny Meat Gang – Global Domination," on July 31. Of course you can't miss The Beach Boys, coming to the theater on Oct. 24, or a two-week long production of Hamilton from Dec. 7-19. For all the young ones that have missed going out in-person, "Disney Princess—The Concert" is coming to the Texas Performing Arts Center on Feb. 6, 2022, performing timeless gems like "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast and featuring all their other favorite princesses. Tickets go on sale this Friday.
Remember to jump on those tickets–Austinites have been missing their live music!
- 11 ways to get your Austin live music fix online - austonia ›
- Austin City Limits is holding in-person festival in 2021 - austonia ›
- Austin live music venue Mohawk announces May reopening - austonia ›
- Some Austin live music venues reopen to smaller crowds - austonia ›
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For Marco Silvestrini, gelato takes him back to his childhood when he and neighborhood kids in a small Italian town would end their day at the local gelato shop. It was part of what made some of the best memories for him.
He's since been offering that same experience for the past seven years with his artisanal gelato shop, Dolce Neve, in Austin, alongside his sister and her husband.
Leo Ferrarese, Marco and Franscesa Silvestrini run Dolce Neve. (Dolce Neve)
While gelato always played a big role in Silvestrini's life, it wasn't in his plans to take on a business with his favorite treat. After a few years in New York working as a management consultant, he felt he was missing out on something. "I decided to take a step back and started thinking, what could... I do to make society better and happier, even just for a moment," Silvestrini said.
He thought back to his childhood and the role gelato played in it and wanted to offer the same experience to Americans.
Once he had the product idea down, it came down to location. Growing up among farmers in a small community in Central Italy, Silvestrini knew he wanted a slower pace of living than New York, so he asked around. The answer he got: "Austin." The only thing he knew about what would become his future home was it had a Formula 1 track.
But after visiting once, he felt a great sense of community he didn't feel in The Empire State. "I felt it was not just a good place for a concept like mine, but also a good place to live because at the end of the day, you cannot just think about your business," he said.
"Dolce Neve" translates to "sweet snow." The shops offers 12-18 flavors at a time. (Dolce Neve)
Similarly, his sister Francesca Silvestrini was experiencing the same feelings while studying for her Ph.D. in Ohio before teaming up with Silvestrini. She went back to Italy to be properly trained in making gelato while Silvestrini focused on the business plan. They brought Leo Ferrarese, her husband, onboard and opened their first shop on South First Street in January 2014. The rest is history.
On the menu, you'll find various traditional and innovative flavors that rotate out. Some of the staples include chocolate, 100% vanilla from Madagascar and salted caramel. Other rotating or seasonal flavors include whiskey and pecan, organic cantaloupe sorbet, goat cheese and pecan, almond custard and tiramisu. They've created over 300 flavors together in the span of the business.
So what's next for the shop? Lately, Silvestrini has been thinking a lot about that. With two locations in Austin, one in Houston—he's just not sure if expanding more is the right move. Maintaining a quality product and good service is of utmost importance that he's not willing to sacrifice.
"In order to be happy, it's not about making money, it's about being an integral part of the community," Silvestrini said. "There have been so many cases in which I think what I did today really made a difference in somebody's life."