Coronavirus update: Austin ISD cancels large gathering, will excuse all health-related absences after spring break

Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz told parents in a letter March 7 that international school trips have been canceled in March. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz told parents in a letter March 7 that international school trips have been canceled in March. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz told parents in a letter March 7 that international school trips have been canceled in March. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)

Updated: March 13, 7:46 a.m.

After two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the Austin-Travis County area by Austin Public Health, Austin ISD has announced that school will be closed Friday, March 13.

Updated: March 12, 8:26 p.m.

Austin ISD announced March 12 that the district has canceled large gatherings, field trips, field days and spring break camps through April 3. The district will also stop the renting district buildings to outside groups during that time.

In the announcement, the district said it will also be excusing all health-related absences from March 23-April 3.


AISD still has class scheduled for Friday, March 13 at this time, and the district will be closed to students and staff for spring break from March 16-20.

Updated: March 11, 9:12 a.m.

Austin ISD on March 10 announced it has cancel all district-sponsored travel to states where local governments have declared a state of public health emergency due to the coronavirus. States on the list include California, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Washington and Utah, according to the district's announcement.

Originally, the district had only banned school trips that were international through March.

With spring break approaching, AISD has also advised families to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on travel, including avoiding all non-essential travel to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea. For students and staff that have or will be traveling to those countries, the district in the announcement requested that individuals contact campus administration and plan to self-quarantine after their return.

Updated: March 9, 1:27 p.m.

Due to concerns about coronavirus and flu season, Austin ISD will take proactive measures to disinfect district buses, maintenance and police vehicles.

According to a March 3 memo by Austin ISD to staff, the district has purchased Dis.in.fx Antimicrobial Services, which use fogging and misting techniques that can disinfect and clean facilities.

“We will be using a device to spray the cleaning product periodically, in addition to our current cleaning process,” Kris Hafezizadeh, the districts executive director of transportation and vehicles, said in the memo. “There is no way to guarantee that a vehicle or base can be 100% germ free, but our goal is to make our working environment as clean as possible.”

Original post: March 7, 4:50 p.m.

Due to concerns about the coronavirus, Austin ISD announced in a March 7 letter to parents that the district would be canceling all international school trips through the end of the month.

“We care about the health of our students, staff and families, and we want to keep everyone updated on what we’re doing as a district to mitigate the risk of the coronavirus,” Superintendent Paul Cruz said in the letter. “Out of an abundance of caution and to be in alignment with other governmental partners, Austin ISD has canceled all district-sponsored international trips through March 31 because of the increased risk of exposure to the coronavirus.”

The letter said the district will continue to assess the impacts on domestic travel.

According to AISD, two international field trips were planned for March. Some Bowie High School students were scheduled to travel to Ireland, while Anderson High School students had a trip planned to Spain.

District staff began screenings Jan. 27 on students who had fevers and had traveled to China within the prior 14 days. The screening process used was developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and modified for use in schools by Ascension/Seton, according to a January message.

AISD will be closed to students and staff for spring break from March 16-20, a historically popular time for family trips. Students and staff return to class March 23.

According to district rules about illnesses, all students and staff “must stay home if they have a fever of 100” degrees Fahrenheit and are not permitted to return to campus until they are fever free for 24 hours without the use of medication.

There are still no confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus in AISD.
By Nicholas Cicale
Nick has been with Community Impact Newspaper since 2016, working with the Lake Travis-Westlake and Southwest Austin-Dripping Springs editions. He previously worked as a reporter in Minnesota and earned a degree from Florida State University.


MOST RECENT

Q2 Stadium
Austin FC preseason scrimmages planned for late March start

Preseason matches for Austin FC will be held in South Austin ahead of the team's inaugural MLS season.

Lawmakers began hearings Feb. 25 to hear from energy executives about what led to dayslong power outages following a Feb. 14 winter storm. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin weekly roundup: The storm is over, but the questions are just beginning

In hearings last week, a state senator from the Houston area called the power and water outages in Texas "the largest trainwreck in the history of degregulated electricity."

Samsung's proposed $17 billion chip-making plant would dwarf other recent megaprojects that sought tax incentives in the region.
Samsung’s request to pay no property tax on $17 billion plant tests Austin’s incentive policy

Samsung is asking for 100% property tax reimbursement over 25 years, which would mark the most aggressive corporate tax break in Austin history.

A new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could help expand vaccination availability in Travis County, according to local health officials. (Courtesy Pexels)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine could mean additional supply, easier distribution rollout in Travis County

If approved, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be a valuable weapon against the ongoing pandemic, according to local health officials.

Austin ISD students will begin the 2021-22 school year Tuesday, Aug. 17. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Take a look at Austin ISD’s newly approved calendar for the 2021-22 school year

Austin ISD trustees have approved the academic calendar for the upcoming 2021-22 school year.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

Austin ISD students are scheduled to return to classrooms March 1 for the first time since Winter Storm Uri. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Winter storm damage could prevent 10 Austin ISD campuses from reopening next week

Austin ISD students are scheduled to return to classrooms March 1 for the first time since Winter Storm Uri.

A tree's branches fell on a car in North Austin in the midst of Winter Storm Uri in February. With downed tree limbs and burst water lines causing property damage across Austin, the city has directed additional funds into programs to help some homeowners with emergency home repairs. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Still in crisis mode, Austin City Council initiates recovery following winter storm

With 200 to 400 apartment and condo complexes in Austin still without water, City Council is aiming to direct aid and relieve some of the financial burden felt by residents following the devastating winter storms.

ArborView is a 62-plus active-living community. (Courtesy ArborView)
Southwest Austin active-living apartment community set to open March 1

The 62-plus active-living community will have 151 total apartment units for rent.

H-E-B will open a new location in the Oak Hill neighborhood of Southwest Austin in August. (Rendering courtesy H-E-B)
H-E-B to open in Oak Hill in Aug.; comedy club coming to The Domain and more news from February

Read business and community news from the past month from Central Texas.

Jo's Coffee opened a North Austin location in January. (Courtesy Chad Wadsworth)
Jo's Coffee opens in Central Austin; new restaurant coming to Georgetown Square and more Central Texas news

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