Twice as many Austin elementary students have returned to campus compared to first day of in-person instruction, district says

Austin ISD trustees met Oct. 26, discussing in-person learning during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD trustees met Oct. 26, discussing in-person learning during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Austin ISD)

Austin ISD trustees met Oct. 26, discussing in-person learning during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Austin ISD)

Beginning Nov. 2, Austin ISD will open its campuses to accommodate all students who request in-person instruction, in an effort to comply with Texas Education Agency requirements.

Since reopening schools at 25% of their capacities on Oct. 5, the district has gradually increased the number of students allowed on campuses. AISD has seen an increase in students enrolling for and attending in-person classes, according to a presentation by Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde to trustees Oct. 26.

On Oct 22, there were 13,201 elementary school students—or 36% of elementary enrollment—on campus, compared to 6,045 on Oct. 5. For middle school, Oct. 22 saw 1,933 students—or 12% of middle school enrollment—attend on campus compared to 1,419 on Oct. 5.

At the high school level, Oct. 22 saw 908 students—or 4% of enrollment—compared to 927 on Oct. 5, showing a slight decrease from the first day. However, with block scheduling in place, attendance can vary day-to-day, and attendance over the past two weeks sunk down to 739 Oct. 15 alternatively peaked at 1,007 on Oct. 19.

In-person enrollment is still low at many AISD campuses, and below the currently permitted 50% of a school's utilization, especially at the high school level. According to the presentation, Northeast Early College High School only has 4 of its 1,139 students on campus as of Oct. 26. Garza Independence High School, however, has seen 94% of its 179 students on campus, one of the highest percentages in the district. Enrollment data at other high schools can be found below.

Mathews Elementary School currently has the highest percentage of students learning in person at the elementary level, with 51% of students on campus, compared to only 10% of students at Boone, Ridgetop and Barton Hills elementary schools.

The chart below compared in-person students and students who are learning remotely at the middle school level.

The district is reassessing parent interest in in-person instruction, and a survey went out Oct. 21 to parents across the district asking if they would like to opt into on-campus learning. The survey will close Oct. 28.

On-campus rapid testing coming

Elizalde said the district is “at the front of the line” in a state program that will provide urban school districts rapid testing resources. She said the tests that will be provided by the state are 97% accurate and can be used by the district to test individuals at schools who show COVID-19 symptoms.

“I’m very excited we may possibly have this on hand, I’m going to say by next week but it could be sooner than that,” she said.

The district cannot require someone to get tested for COVID-19, but Elizalde said by testing students and staff who are on campus with symptoms, the district can have improved contact tracing and can help individuals get better treatments when they are sick.

In the future, Elizalde said Austin Public Health could be providing additional tests to Title 1 schools—or those that serve a greater number of lower-income students—to better test at-risk communities.
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.


Photo of a hand dropping a ballot in a box
Candidates for Austin City Council District 10 face off ahead of Dec. 15 runoff

Incumbent Alison Alter and challenger Jennifer Virden are vying for the seat.

Austin City Hall (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Public safety, homelessness in Austin take center stage in final forum before District 6 runoff vote

Three days ahead of the first day of early voting for the Austin City Council District 6 runoff election, a final public debate was mostly focused on issues of public safety.

This is a view of the new William Cannon Drive bridge from I-35 in South Austin. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
South Austin motorists should brace for lane closures, delays on I-35 this week

Roadwork in the area overall is expected to continue until the middle of 2021.

Campuses in Austin ISD will be closes to in-person learning the week after Thanksgiving break. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
All Austin ISD classes to be held online through Dec. 4

The district will also be providing free COVID-19 tests to staff and families Dec. 2-4.

Bicycles for public use are docked at a MetroBike station on Lake Austin Boulevard. Austin's $460 million Proposition B will include funding for additional bicycle lanes through the city. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Breaking down Austin's $460 million bond for bike lanes, trails, sidewalks and more

The bond will fun a bridge over Pleasant Valley Road connecting two ends of the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike trail, among other improvements.

Local health leaders are urging caution ahead of Thanksgiving. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Ahead of Thanksgiving, Travis County health officials urge caution

Austin Public Health leaders say gatherings with people outside one's household held indoors and without masks pose the greatest risk.

Harini Logan, 10, won the 66th annual Express-News Spelling Bee at the University of Texas at San Antonio downtown campus on March 17, 2019. For 2021, the event is slated to be held in March at the Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre in New Braunfels. (Photo by Jerry Lara, courtesy the San Antonio Express News)
New Braunfels to host regional spelling bee and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from Central Texas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

The vaccine could start being distributed "as early as next month," according to a Nov. 23 news release.

ACC’s Pinnacle Campus has been closed since 2018. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Community College: There’s 'excitement' for a new Pinnacle campus

The Southwest Austin campus has been closed since 2018 due to poor facility conditions.

A new pedestrian path was build along Sawyer Ranch Road this fall. (Courtesy Hays County)
Sawyer Ranch Road shared-use path completed in Dripping Springs

The project is one of the first completed through Hays County's 2016 bond.

P. Terry’s Burger Stand is expected to open its long-awaited Pflugerville location this January. (Courtesy P. Terry's Burger Stand)
P. Terry's to open in Pflugerville in January and more Central Texas news

Read the latest Central Texas business and community news.

The Bridge at Turtle Creek apartment complex will provide more than 300 affordable units upon completion in 2022. (Rendering courtesy Journeyman Group)
Austin development updates: Apartments could replace two Rainey Street bars, 307 affordable housing units coming to South First Street area

A 569-foot apartment complex could replace Javelina and Craft Bar. Meanwhile, development continues in the St. Elmo area.