Austin ISD's COVID-19 rate lower than nearby districts after first month of school

Students at O. Henry Middle School in Austin head in for their first day of school Aug. 17. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Students at O. Henry Middle School in Austin head in for their first day of school Aug. 17. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Students at O. Henry Middle School in Austin head in for their first day of school Aug. 17. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

With the first month of school behind Austin ISD students, data shows the percentage of students who have contracted COVID-19 in the district is about half that of neighboring districts.

Between Aug. 16 and Sept. 17, AISD recorded 658 COVID-19 cases in its roughly 75,000 students, making up less than 1% of the student population.

Surrounding school districts have recorded between 2.4% and 3.2% of their students contracting COVID-19 since their classes started.

Williamson County health officials recommended Leander ISD close down after a surge in case levels in late August. By Sept. 17, LISD recorded about 2.9% of its students had tested positive. AISD believes the relatively low case rate among students is a result of its mask mandate, along with contact tracing efforts and other health and safety protocols, said Eddie Villa, a spokesperson for the district.

Surrounding school districts have not mandated masks, while AISD went against an order from Gov. Greg Abbott to mandate masks before the school year started.

Dripping Springs ISD has recorded 198 COVID-19 cases in students between Aug. 18 and Sept. 17. With 7,983 students enrolled—all but 114 of whom are taking classes in person—about 2.5% have reported COVID-19 cases. The district encourages but does not require mask wearing.


In the first month of classes for this school year, AISD recorded more COVID-19 cases in students than it did during the entire 2020-21 school year, though Austin public school students were mostly virtual last year, and the district’s COVID-19 dashboard only tracks positive tests for on-campus students. By January 2021, 17% of Austin public school students were learning in person.

During the full 2020-21 school year, the district counted 656 COVID-19 cases in students and 719 in employees. In October 2020, some students began learning in person during phase-in periods.
By Maggie Quinlan

Reporter, Southwest Austin/Dripping Springs

Maggie joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July 2021 after a year spent covering crime, courts and politics at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, near the border with Idaho. In Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs, Maggie covers education, business, healthcare, transportation, real estate development and nonprofits. Prior to CI, she graduated from Washington State University, where she was managing editor of the student newspaper and a section editor at her hometown newspaper based in Moscow, Idaho. Maggie dreamed of living in the Austin area for years and feels honored to serve the communities of Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs.



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