Dear Austin ISD families,
With the rapidly evolving situation, we remain committed to providing timely updates to help you plan. That’s why we moved swiftly this past week to close our schools and communicate with families.
I realize as the weather warms you may wonder why we made the proactive decision to close Monday and Tuesday, return to remote learning Wednesday and Thursday and end the week with the previously scheduled asynchronous Friday.
One main reason is the extensive damage caused by the winter storm across our 120 plus schools and facilities. Many have broken and frozen water pipes that have produced flooding, have little to no water pressure or have no water at all. Some of our schools still do not have power or internet access. Our staff are currently assessing school buildings and it will take some time to resolve the issues they find. Furthermore, the city remains under a boil water notice and bottled water is in short supply. We are working to acquire bottled water and cafeteria food as many deliveries were delayed and are now backlogged as the weather has improved. Additionally, The University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College have both also announced closures for at least Monday and Tuesday.
As we emerged from one crisis into another, I knew our families and schools would need more time before we can all get back to some regular routines. I too am eager to get our students back learning but only under safe circumstances.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of questions and answers that we’ve seen from the community that are available on our website.
Thank you again for your patience, understanding, and collaboration during this very challenging time.
Stephanie S. Elizalde
Why did the district decide to close schools three days out, and offer 100% remote learning Wednesday and Thursday?
After assessing our facilities we found many of our schools are still without power, little to no water pressure, and may have broken pipes and flooding. In addition, the entire city remains under a boil water notice with bottled water hard to find. Our facilities personnel have determined that it will take several days to resolve these issues. We also understand that many of our families and staff are still recovering from the damage caused by the storm and are unable to report to work themselves. Friday, Feb. 26 was already scheduled to be an asynchronous learning day.
Austin ISD was open during the boil water notice two years ago, why not now?
The situation two years ago was different in that it was not immediately preceded by two separate crises: the winter storm and subsequent power outages. Furthermore, most families had water two years ago, but it needed to be boiled. This time, many families or schools simply have no water flowing from their taps. In addition, many people stocked up on bottled water prior to the winter storm, making it more difficult to find now that the city is in the midst of a water crisis. For these reasons, holding classes Monday and Tuesday, even remotely, would be untenable.
My school has power and the route to school has cleared from the storm. Why isn’t it open?
We’re glad the situation is improving in some areas, such as clearer roads and more families with power. However, from the outside, families may not see the broken pipe and the flooding or the lack of water pressure. Our facilities personnel are working hard on these issues, but it will take some time to remedy.
How will the events over the last week affect the 6-week grading period at the secondary level?
The new ending date for the current grading period for all secondary grade level campus types has been extended to Tuesday, Feb. 23. Campus staff will communicate course-specific updates as they regain access to systems.
Where can I get resources if I don’t have water or food?
There are food and water distribution events throughout the city this weekend. Visit AustinISD.org for resources, text 512-886-6434 for a link to this information, or follow Austin ISD and the city of Austin on Twitter for the most up-to-date information.