Coronavirus in Austin causes AISD school cancellation


Faith Lawrence

On March 12, two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) were revealed in the Austin community.

Cade Spencer and Faith Lawrence

On March 12, two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) were revealed in the Austin community. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the term “presumptive” signifies that the individuals have tested positive for Coronavirus in a local lab, but the CDC will need to confirm the positive results via their own testing. However, according to the Interim Health Authority for the City of Austin, Dr. Mark Escott, the two individuals did not contract the virus in the Austin area and instead were infected in another region and have since come to Austin.  

In response to the occurrence of two cases of the Coronavirus in the Austin-Travis Country Area, AISD has closed all offices and schools for Friday, March 13. 

“District administration will continue to closely monitor the situation and provide operational updates,” AISD wrote in its email sent to the public at 3:37 AM. “Students, parents, and staff are urged to remain vigilant in the efforts to stay healthy.”

In addition to the school closure on March 13, all student assemblies, field trips, field days, spring break camps, and outside rental of all AISD buildings have been canceled through April 3.

“It’s crazy how school was canceled today but I feel like it was an important decision because it allows for them to keep everyone safe and clean the school,” sophomore Susan Leifker said. “Corona[virus] didn’t feel real until it was in my city.” 

Throughout spring break and the coming month, all AISD facilities, including schools and students buses, will be disinfected in order to reduce possible contamination.

“I definitely think the cancellation was the correct decision,” junior Bradley Mixon said. “It’s important to take steps like this to prevent an outbreak within our own community.”

All health related students absences will be excused from March 23 until April 3 in AISD schools, as stated in an AISD announcement on their website. In addition, AISD also declared that students should stay home if they have a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and only come back to classes after they have been cleared of fever for 24 hours. 

“What’s important to me is that our students continue to stay informed and have an awareness and take precautions to make sure that they are safe and that their families are safe,” Principal Mark Robinson said. 

In accordance with CDC policy, AISD recommended, via their public announcement, that students should drink lots of water, stay physically active, get a good amount of sleep, and eat nutritious meals to stay healthy. 

“I hope this will be a big wake up for everyone in minding their health, being aware of symptoms,” history teacher Wendy Uzzle said. “We have lots of staff and students who are immunocompromised and this [puts them at risk]. I hope we become more aware of our actions.”

Although AISD has cancelled school for the day, other districts in the Austin community including Eanes, Round Rock and Hays ISD, are still operating. No plans have been released for post-break closures. 

“I actually wanted to go to school today because there were just a few more things I needed to get done before break,” junior Evelyn Batista said. “We were supposed to have a quiz in math, and now that we’ll have to take it after spring break, I’m probably going to forget everything. Even though Coronavirus is a serious threat, I think we could have survived going to school for one more day.” 

Curbside meals: 

On Friday, March 13 at noon, AISD announced it would be working with the Texas Department of Agriculture to distribute meals for students.

AISD Food Services will provide lunches to children under the age of 19 at various AISD campuses while schools are closed as a precaution to the Coronavirus. These meals will be available on Friday, March 13 as well as Monday through Friday starting at March 23 if schools continue their closure.

Meals will be available from noon to 1:30 P.M. and will include protein, grains, fruit and vegetables as well as the option of milk and compostable cutlery upon request. The locations at which meals are available were chosen based on the percentage of students receiving meal benefits exceeding 50 percent.

AISD advises that students and families remain in their cars and not enter buildings while picking up meals. Locations at which meals will be available are listed below.

  • Dobie Middle School
  • Cook Elementary School
  • Burnet Middle School
  • LBJ Early College High School
  • Govalle Elementary School
  • T.A. Brown Elementary School
  • Eastside Memorial Early College High School
  • Dawson Elementary School
  • Linder Elementary School
  • Crockett Early College High School
  • Pleasant Hill Elementary School
  • Houston Elementary School
  • Akins Early College High School
  • Perez Elementary School

Additional reporting by Arushi Sharma. 

*The story will be updated by Dispatch staff as more information is available.