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 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.


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