Lake Travis ISD requests local authority to extend remote learning

Lake Travis ISD requested the authority to extend virtual learning past Sept. 8 if needed. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Lake Travis ISD requested the authority to extend virtual learning past Sept. 8 if needed. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Lake Travis ISD requested the authority to extend virtual learning past Sept. 8 if needed. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, students are more likely to exhibit risky behavior since they fall within the lower-risk category.

This is according to Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County interim health authority, who said during a July 14 Travis County Commissioners Court meeting that the nature of those interactions could increase the rate of transmission.

To that end, Lake Travis ISD Superintendent Brad Lancaster and board President Kim Flash advocated for increased authority for local districts in planning for the reopening of the 2020-21 school year in a July 15 letter to Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath.

The statement confirms in-person classes will be suspended at LTISD until at least Sept. 7 in accordance with a July 14 order issued by the city of Austin and Travis County.

LTISD has further requested the ability to extend the suspension if necessary due to the evolving nature of the coronavirus pandemic.


Lancaster noted the delay of in-person classes outlined by Escott has provided district staff with the flexibility to further prepare for a safe reopening.

Travis County’s order contradicted recent guidelines put forth by the TEA, which called for districts to provide in-person instruction for all students who wish to be on campus—a recommendation that received direct criticism from neighboring districts, including Eanes ISD.

“[TEA’s guidance] removes our ability to fully address teacher and staff safety, including space limitations due to social distancing requirements,” LTISD’s letter states.

Escott addressed these safety concerns and others at the July 14 Commissioners Court meeting prior to issuing the updated orders.

During that meeting, Escott also confirmed the risk of students displaying severe symptoms from the coronavirus is relatively low compared to other age groups, but he said there may be a higher likelihood of transmission.

Escott presented a set of “sobering” numbers tied to districts that fully reopen in August without a working vaccine. Specifically, he examined statistics at LTISD, the district his children attend.

LTISD serves about 10,695 students and 603 teachers based on 2019 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, a number that has increased in the past year.

Per those numbers, Escott estimated anywhere from two to 74 students could die as a result of COVID-19 if Lake Travis ISD opened at full capacity, and fatalities could be up to 10 times higher for teachers.

There is some uncertainty in the fatality rates of younger individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 due to the overall low percentage, but Escott estimated the rate to be anywhere between 0.03% and 1.02% for children ages 10 to 19.

Based on these risks, Escott suggested local districts consider a “default position” that the entire fall semester should take place virtually.
By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


MOST RECENT

The regional blood bank appealed for further donations in the wake of the June 12 shooting in downtown Austin. (Courtesy We Are Blood)
We Are Blood appeals for blood donations following weekend shooting in downtown Austin

The Central Texas nonprofit also said its blood supply remains depleted due to decreased donations through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Austin City Council's Housing and Planning Committee met virtually June 15. (Screenshot via City of Austin)
Austin City Council members, city Realtors talk housing market increases and affordability

The median sale price of Austin homes surged past $500,000 through the first five months of 2021.

Izzy is one of the 20 dogs in need of an emergency foster home. (Courtesy Austin Pets Alive)
Austin Pets Alive seeks emergency foster homes for dogs recovering from distemper

The Bastrop County Animal Shelter and Austin Pets Alive are seeking homes within the next 48 hours for 20 dogs facing euthanasia.

Home prices continue to increase, according to local real estate data. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Lake Travis-Westlake home sales spike 67.7% in May, housing inventory reaches critical low

The region’s median sale price increased 34.8% year-over-year to $822,500.

Community groups painted "Black Austin Matters" along three blocks of Congress Avenue in 2020. Juneteenth, an official city of Austin holiday as of 2020, commemorates the day Black residents of Texas found out they were free from slavery in 1865. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Juneteenth in Austin: Parade and fireworks information, other community events, city closures

The holiday commemorates the day Black enslaved residents of Texas were told they were free in Galveston in 1865.

Plans to move forward with the design of a new Travis County women's jail have been postponed indefinitely. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis County pauses plans to build new women's jail

Commissioners voted unanimously to postpone any design or construction of new jail facilities for at least a year while staff re-evaluate the Travis County correctional system's needs.

Joseph Chacon, interim chief of the Austin Police Department, gives an update on Austin's recent move into the second phase of Proposition B camping ban enforcement June 15 alongside Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey and City Manager Spencer Cronk. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Proposition B enforcement shifts from education to warnings

Austin officials on June 15 provided an update on enforcement and outreach work by city staff and the Austin Police Department with the second phase of Proposition B camping ban enforcement now underway.

CesiumAstro will expand its Austin headquarters with a new 29,000-square-foot facility. (Courtesy CesiumAstro)
Aerospace company CesiumAstro expands Bee Cave HQ, announces mission to space

CesiumAstro recently announced its first mission to space, which will take place in September.

Photo of Moderna vaccine vials on a table
50% of Travis County residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19

Travis County has reached a milestone in COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Lake Travis Film Festival shortlist party was held at Music Hill Ranch in Lakeway. Founder Kat Albert announced the official film selections for the festival, which will kick off June 10. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Inaugural run and mayoral recognition: 4 events recently held in West Travis County

About 100 people showed up for the inaugural Run Through the Hive Police Memorial 5K. The race, which was held May 15 at the Hill Country Galleria, raised money for the Bee Cave Police Benevolent Foundation. The foundation offers financial aid and support to Bee Cave police officers, local public safety employees and their families during times of need. The foundation also offers a college scholarship to graduating Lake Travis High School students. (Greg Perliski/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued a call for Texans to conserve energy June 14. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT asks Texans to conserve energy with generation outages 2.5 times higher than normal

"This is unusual for this early in the summer season," said Woody Rickerson, ERCOT vice president of grid planning and operations, in a news release.