Austin ISD planning for blended teaching approach for school year beginning Aug. 18

Director of Elementary Schools Monica Gonzalez said June 1 that the district is looking into training teachers this summer to prepare for partial or full-time virtual learning. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Director of Elementary Schools Monica Gonzalez said June 1 that the district is looking into training teachers this summer to prepare for partial or full-time virtual learning. (Courtesy Austin ISD)

Director of Elementary Schools Monica Gonzalez said June 1 that the district is looking into training teachers this summer to prepare for partial or full-time virtual learning. (Courtesy Austin ISD)

Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz said during a board presentation June 1 that the district is working toward a blended approach for classes for the 2020-21 school year.

Options under consideration by the district include limitations created by following safety guidelines as well as those required by the Texas Education Agency.

While the district typically follows a 22-to-1 student to teacher ratio within a classroom, Cruz said that classrooms next year could be limited to 6-8 students each due to social distancing requirements and available space. Similarly, the district may have to reduce its bus capacity from 60 students down to 12-14 per route, which would make transporting its estimated 23,000 students who rely on buses challenging. Serving an estimated 75,000 meals a day could also be difficult, as would finding places for students to eat on campus while keeping a safe distance from one another.

"There are a lot of implications, which is why it takes a little time to study some of the work to make sure we're making the best decisions for our students," Cruz said.

According to a presentation by the district, a blended approach would allow the district to switch from in-person learning to virtual learning when needed, and a calendar would also include intersectional breaks throughout the year as recommended by the Texas Education Agency.


Director of Elementary Schools Monica Gonzalez said the district is looking to train teachers this summer to prepare for partial or full-time virtual learning. Training could outline how to develop a classroom culture during virtual learning, she said.

Cruz also said virtual learning would come with more assignments, grades and accountability measures for students compared to the most recent learn-from-home spring semester during the coronavirus pandemic.

The district still expects to start the school year on Aug. 18.
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

This fall, firefighters from Central Texas—including from the Austin, Oak Hill and North Hays County fire departments—have traveled to California to help with the state's ongoing fire season. (Courtesy Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System)
As wildfires burn in the western United States, South Austin neighborhoods, firefighters work to reduce local risks

This fall, firefighters—including from the Austin, Oak Hill and North Hays County fire departments—have traveled to California to help with the state's ongoing fire season.

Photo of Sycamore Springs Middle School
Dripping Springs ISD parents voice concern over COVID-19 cases linked to middle school football

Parents say several Sycamore Springs middle school football players tested positive for the coronavirus, but overall case counts remain low.

Photo of the Chisos Boots building exterior
South Austin business news: New cafe and hotel come to Music Lane, Chisos Boots opens showroom and more

Two Hands, a New York City-based cafe, and Hotel Magdalena, an 89-room hotel with a restaurant helmed by a chef with experience at Launderette and Fres'a Chicken al Carbon, are new arrivals to the South Congress Avenue-area development.

Construction continues at ArborView, with an opening anticipated for early 2021. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Under construction Greyrock Ridge senior community could see first residents in January

ArborView is a 62+ active-living community that will have 151 total units at build-out.

Graphic visualization of coronavirus
UT experts predict a 96% chance of worsening COVID-19 rates in Travis County in coming weeks

Travis County's health authority says individual actions can still turn the tide.

Early voting at the Ben Hur Shrine Temple
Some Austin-area polling locations have recorded 10,000-plus votes through first week of early voting

Three Williamson County polling locations have each reported more than 10,000 ballots cast in the first week of early voting.

Treaty Oak Distilling is located at 16604 Fitzhugh Road, Dripping Springs. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Treaty Oak Distilling looking to open second property for gin production, tastings

The distillery is planning to expand its gin production in 2021.

Capital Metro celebrated the opening of a renovated and expanded downtown Austin MetroRail hub Oct. 19. (Courtesy Capital Metro)
Capital Metro opens downtown Austin station and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

Photo of a wall of "I voted" stickers
More than 30% of Travis County voters have cast their ballot in first week of early voting

Both in-person voting and by-mail voting in Travis County are up compared to the first week of early voting in 2016.

Photo of the downtown metro station
Expanded MetroRail station opens in Austin's downtown

Captial Metro hosted a grand opening for the new station Oct. 19.