Austin ISD prepares for 'thousands' of students displaced by Harvey

Austin ISD is enrolling children impacted by Hurricane Harvey who have evacuated to Austin. District officials have identified schools with space for additional enrollment, and the Austin Ed Fund has launched a campaign to raise money to cover the costs of school supplies and additional support.

Inside the weight room at LBJ High School on Thursday morning, Austin Mayor Steve Adler told reporters that the city couldn't provide shelter for Harvey evacuees without the support of AISD. LBJ High School is the site of one of the provisional shelters in Austin.

Michelle Wallis, the executive director of AISD's Office of Innovation and Development, said there is space for children at schools closest to the shelters as well as for children whose families who are not in the shelters but need to enroll their children in schools while their own districts rebuild.

"We look forward to serving the children affected by Hurricane Harvey," Wallis said.

The number of enrollees is unknown, but AISD is preparing for the possibility of thousands of students.

Superintendent Paul Cruz said at the press conference that he recently spoke to a family displaced by the flooding who worried their 18-year-old son wouldn't complete his senior year of high school as scheduled.

AISD will provide emotional support to children affected by Harvey and its aftermath by hiring additional counselors and parent support specialists.

More than 200 school districts experienced delays because of the storm. In Houston, all 51 school districts have postponed classes at least until Tuesday. Many schools will need to stay closed for much longer to rebuild.

The Texas Education Agency announced Tuesday it would provide waivers for school districts in counties that were forced to cancel classes so that they do not have to make up those days.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Agriculture also approved the Houston ISD to provide three meals a day throughout the school year. This means families will not have to apply for this service. Students will have access to these meals as soon as schools resume.
By Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her beat includes the Travis County Commissioners Court and local business news. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.


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