Austin ISD board votes to give teachers and students 2 days off


Alex Edwards

On Thursday, Jan. 27, AISD announced that students and staff will have two days off: February 11th and March 4th.

Arushi Sharma, Editor-in-Chief

On Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, Austin Independent School District (AISD)’s Board of Trustees added two additional days off to give students and staff members two more three-day weekends in the spring semester. All student and staff members will have two extra days off: Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, and Friday, March 4, 2022. 

Originally, the AISD plan started off as a 2-3 hour early release from school on select Fridays for the rest of the school year. However, after receiving feedback through a survey from over 20,000 students, teachers, and parents, a compromise was reached to give a few days off instead. 

“We recognize it’s still not enough, but just because it’s not enough doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something,” AISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said in the meeting last night. “We know how hard all of our staff are working, but specifically our campus-based staff, and I am thankful to them.”

The survey reflected that about 20% of respondents stated that they didn’t want early releases at all. Furthermore, most families, students, teachers, and other staff wanted more frequent, yet shorter early releases rather than fewer, longer early releases.

“I think it’s nice that the district is doing something to recognize that students and teachers are under more than the average amount of stress right now because of everything happening this semester,” English teacher Gayla Hayes said. “ I’m actually pretty happy with the two days off because it will give me more time to grade all my students’ papers and work.” 

The Omicron variant has led to several staff shortages across the district. Campus staff members and AISD’s central office staff have stepped in to serve as substitutes and the district raised the pay for substitute teachers earlier this month in an attempt to get more substitute teachers to work. 

“I think that students, teachers, and other staff members need the break, especially with COVID-19 and all the extra work that’s been happening this semester because of it,” senior Zoya Faisal said. “Teachers have had to plan for absent students, figuring out virtual options for these students, and covering other classes, so it’s been hard for them this semester.”

According to the survey, several AISD teachers preferred the two days off over the early releases as they didn’t want to lose their planning periods during the regular school day. AISD proposed these two full days off while keeping full pay for teachers. 

“I wish that the two days off weren’t both B-days because that means we’ll have to do more work to catch up with the A-day classes,” senior Susan Leifker said. “It’ll be hard to catch up, but I’m glad to have the day off from school.” 

The AISD school board assured that the extra days off don’t create an additional cost as the district had extra minutes in the school year and budgeted for the employees to be paid on those two days. 

“These two days are going to give me more time to apply for scholarships, do homework, and study for AP tests so I’m very grateful to have the days off,” Faisal said.