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More Austin ISD Students Are Returning To The Classroom For The Last Quarter Of School

A student wearing a mask sits at a desk behind a partition.
Michael Minasi
A student sits at a desk behind a partition at Boone Elementary School in South Austin last fall.

Around a third of all Austin ISD students have returned to school buildings for class, according to the district. It's the highest rate all school year.

In January and February, 21% percent of students were at school. Right after spring break, 34% had returned.

Back in August, Herb Watkins and his wife were too nervous about COVID-19 to even consider sending their daughter to kindergarten at Mills Elementary. She's been doing virtual learning for most of the year, but now it feels safer for her to return.

"We got some advice from her pediatrician ... who said the kids are really following the advice of the CDC really well," he said, "so there hasn't been a problem with transmission."

Watkins said learning remotely was a challenge for his daughter, as well as for him and his wife.

"It was tough," he said. "She was really having trouble with some of the lessons and just emotionally she couldn't get the same kind of attention."

He said he's excited she'll have first grade in person this fall, even though he's worried some learning might have been lost because of the pandemic.

AISD announced that in-person learning will be the default option in the fall, but virtual learning will continue to be available for families who choose to keep their children at home.

Claire McInerny is a former education reporter for KUT.
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