Austin Community College extends emergency declaration, updates district on COVID-19 actions

Austin Community College board of trustees met May 4 for the first time since early March. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Community College board of trustees met May 4 for the first time since early March. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin Community College board of trustees met May 4 for the first time since early March. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

At its first official meeting since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in Central Texas, Austin Community College board of trustees extended its emergency declaration related to the pandemic through Sept. 14.

"This has been an incredibly challenging time that not one of us had anticipated, but our faculty our staff and our administrators stepped up,” ACC President and CEO Richard Rhodes said at the district’s May 4 meeting. “ The entire ACC family pitched in to ensure that students and employees have what they need to learn, teach and work remotely. We put health and safety first and remained focused on student success.”

According to the resolution, Rhodes will continue to have the authority to apply for waivers, declare a catastrophe and take actions to execute contracts for goods and services related the coronavirus pandemic.

Rhodes said that since the emergency declaration was initially approved in March, he has only used the purchasing power in the resolution to purchase iPads and laptops needed by the district for the transition to online learning. Based on his suggestion, the resolution was extended through the summer to make sure the district could take care of any unforeseen needs during the summer semester.

Rhodes also updated the board on the district’s overall response to the pandemic, which required the district to switch to online classes for the second half of the spring semester as well as the upcoming summer semester.


In the spring, district enrollment has increased, while the number of students withdrawing from classes has decreased by 30% compared to last year’s spring semester, Rhodes said. Additionally, the district has distributed hundreds of iPads and laptops, and has temporarily switched to a pass, no pass grading system.

An estimated 60% of ACC students have seen a financial burden during the pandemic through lost jobs or cut hours, Rhodes said. As a result, after receiving $13.9 million through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the community college district has set up the ACC CARES Act Student Aid program. More information about the program can be found here.

Effects from the coronavirus also delayed the start of registration for the coming summer semester until May 4. More than 11,000 students enrolled in the first 5 hours of the registration period, Rhodes said.

"We're going to make sure students who choose ACC this summer have what they need to stay on track and complete their goals,” he said.