There is still uncertainty about what COVID-19 health and safety precautions will have to be in place for the 2021-22 school year, but Austin ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said the district is preparing for most students to return to a traditional classroom setting beginning in the fall.

Elizalde said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and local vaccination rates could determine masking and social distancing requirements in the district. However, she does not anticipate those health precautions will prevent the district from providing safe, in-person instruction that looks more like a pre-pandemic offering.

“We will absolutely be returning to a more standard, face-to-face instruction,” she said at a board of trustees meeting March 25.

In addition to that, Elizalde said the district is creating a form of virtual instruction for families that may still be hesitant to return the classroom.

To accommodate demand, teachers will be dedicated to a specific instruction model next year instead of simultaneously teaching both in person and virtually as they did during the current school year.

“We will have to ask people to make a commitment to which form of instruction they would like so that we can have teachers dedicated to that particular instructional model,” she said. “We will not have teachers do what they've had to do this year, which is do both [concurrently].”

The district is continuing to gather feedback from families and staff about the upcoming school year and will provide additional updates as they become finalized, according to Elizalde.