The Austin Independent School District will be hosting in-person classes back on campus starting this week, despite an uproar from their own staff.
Despite the uncertainty of the coming weeks and the COVID pandemic, Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde has opted to keep school campuses open. While she says closing the whole district would mean a loss of state funding, she says she does have more individually tailored options at her disposal if needed. “I may be accessing and being alittle more aggressive on closures depending on the number of cases that we find at a particular campus.”
Schools can be closed for up to two full weeks. Varsity athletics will be allowed to continue, but all other sports and extra curriculars are still canceled.
However the district’s employees union is still unsatisfied with the Superintendents decision, even after an initial wave of vaccinations for AISD teachers. Education Austin Union President Ken Zarifis says, while he is grateful educators are starting to get the COVID vaccine, he believes the district should still be doing and allowing more.
The Union rep explains, it seems that teachers are being targeted for vaccination, and while that is good, Zarifis says there are still the rest of the school staff and part timers to worry about and who can still catch the virus.
Zarifis also points the 127 grievances still laid at the district’s feet, from teachers who’ve applied for and were denied COVID-19 accommodations, reminding that the district has still yet to address those teachers who’ve asked AISD to let them continue working and teaching remotely as they have medical problems that jeopardize their immune system, some as bad as cancer, and others still recovering from a recent major surgery.