Questions loom large as Lake Travis ISD plans for the 2020-21 school year

Lake Travis ISD discussed the 2020-21 school year during a virtual May 20 meeting. (Courtesy Lake Travis ISD)
Lake Travis ISD discussed the 2020-21 school year during a virtual May 20 meeting. (Courtesy Lake Travis ISD)

Lake Travis ISD discussed the 2020-21 school year during a virtual May 20 meeting. (Courtesy Lake Travis ISD)

Lake Travis ISD is approaching the end of the 2019-20 school year, with the final instructional day scheduled for May 22.

Historically, the end of one school year proceeds the planning of the next, but as the coronavirus pandemic continues, questions still loom large over the possibility of returning in the fall.

Superintendent Brad Lancaster confirmed during a May 20 board meeting much is unknown regarding the 2020-21 school year. It is possible students will be able to return at full capacity in August. He noted it is also possible students will continue virtual learning or begin a combination of both options.

The district announced May 7 all summer school classes will take place online. Furthermore, child care and summer recreational programs are suspended until at least June 30.

Beyond that date, LTISD has not made any officials decisions on if and how students will return to campus Aug. 19, partly due to the district awaiting further guidance from the state.

“It’s too soon,” Lancaster said. “It’s way too early to tell what kind of guidelines will be in place on Aug. 19.”

To continue planning, LTISD will also require community input. Whether through an online survey or another method, the district is asking parents if they plan on putting their children in in-person classes.

Traditionally, this is accomplished through annual registration. However, in light of the current climate, Lancaster said a secondary registration process would be helpful.

“Sooner or later, we’re likely to have some designation for how many children we can have in a classroom and maintain some safety,” Lancaster said, adding it is likely guidelines will be released by the state.

Updated guidelines have been released by the Texas Education Agency, which reported May 7 the 2020-21 school year is likely to be disrupted by COVID-19.

The recommendations, although optional, suggest implementing an intersessional calendar to accommodate the possibility of a second coronavirus wave in the winter. The modified calendar would also aid the expected learning loss that occurred throughout extended school closures.

At this time LTISD is not considering implementing these suggestions, according to Lancaster, who said if the board was interested, swift action would need to be taken.

The intersessional calendar, which builds in longer breaks dispersed throughout the year would pose a number of issues for the district. The first being contracts for staff, which have already been signed.

Each contract includes a set start date, which would need to be changed upon adjusting the instructional calendar.

Trustees did not express any further interest in the optional guidelines during the May 20 meeting.

Thanking Lancaster and staff, Board Member Bob Dorsett called the planning process “daunting.”

“I think we’re finding out what we’ve done since March is going to be easy in comparison to what we have to do in the fall,” Dorsett said.

Recognizing the challenges of the pandemic, LTISD is planning for a variety of possibilities heading into next year, according to Lancaster. Communication with the community will be a continued aspect of the process.

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.


Under the city of Austin's phased enforcement plan released May 10, citations at public encampments will begin in mid-June to be followed by arrests and clearances in July as necessary. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin's homeless ordinances back on books May 11, but arrests, camp clearings won't start until July

Austin announced a "phased process" to introduce Proposition B ordinances beginning with one month of outreach followed by one month of warnings and citations before arrests or clearances begin as necessary.

Pfizer vaccines could become available to kids 12 and up as soon as next week. (Courtesy Adobe Stock/Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)
FDA expands Pfizer vaccine authorization to children ages 12 to 15 years old

This is the first time people under the age of 16 have been granted access to a coronavirus vaccine.

Butler Park Pitch & Putt reopened to the public in April. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Butler Park Pitch & Putt reopens in Austin; turf fields open in Pflugerville and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Heather Sánchez
Leander ISD hires new area superintendent

Heather Sánchez will be a new area superintendent at Leander ISD.

Eanes ISD trustees will meet May 11 for a special-called board meeting. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Diversity, equity and inclusion report, budget updates and mask policy on May 11 Eanes ISD agenda

The Eanes ISD board of trustees is scheduled to meet May 11 for a special-called meeting at the district’s Central Administration Building.

Succulent plants, like these agave, or century plants, at the Hill Country Galleria, were severely damaged by the 2021 winter storm. (Greg Perliski/Community Impact Newspaper).
Assessing true damage to Hill Country landscapes to take time

Industry experts conducting survey to tally impact of historic winter storm.

From left: Peter Keilty and Chris Abramson of Bees for All tend to one of their hives. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Bees for All teaches the importance of local pollinators

Local business produces honey from seven hives on a 5-acres site.

Chacasso (pictured) and Micah Pearman own Flip'N Art, a custom art business in Bee Cave.
Lake Travis area becomes unlikely home to a growing arts scene

“Arts are the light coming out of the darkness. You need to see the beauty around us and the beauty that we can all create, and we’re just hungry for connection.” Kat Albert said. “For us, it’s not just about seeing something beautiful. It’s about having that interaction with another human that makes you feel alive.”

Utility work is related to ongoing construction of a bypass of RM 2222 and RM 620. (Courtesy Fotolia)
TxDOT lane closure scheduled for RM 620 beginning May 9

Drivers in west Travis County headed southbound on RM 620 should expect delays beginning at RM 2222 to Steiner Ranch Boulevard on May 9 from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Work crews with the Texas Department of Transportation will have the right lane closed due to utility work.

Tents have become a common sight throughout Austin including along Cesar Chavez Street downtown, but with the passage of Proposition B the city may now consider moving unsheltered homeless individuals to designated sites. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Designated campsites for the homeless are back on the table

City staff had previously dismissed developing official camping locations in 2019, but new directives from City Council this week could revive the concept in Austin.

Wag-A-Bag is headquartered in Round Rock. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)
Wag-A-Bag to operate under new ownership, name; Austin, TxDOT at odds over I-35 overhaul; and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Austin area.