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Here's What Happens When There's A Positive COVID Case At An Austin ISD School

Children wear masks on the first day of school at Barton Hills Elementary School on Tuesday.
Jordan Vonderhaar for KUT
Children wear masks on the first day of school at Barton Hills Elementary School on Tuesday.

Austin ISD students are back in class, and parents are already getting notified about positive COVID-19 cases.

"After doing contact tracing, all individuals who may have been in direct contact were notified to quarantine," the district told families in letters reporting positive cases this week. "[T]he areas that the person may have been in have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized."

To help with contact tracing, many schools have assigned seating in classrooms, at lunch and on buses. If a student comes into contact with someone infected with COVID-19, they'll have to learn from home for 10-14 days.

Students asked to stay home can continue instruction online. But because teachers aren't teaching students in person and online simultaneously — unlike last year — they can't just jump on a Zoom call and resume their regular classes.

Instead, Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said, when students go home to quarantine, their teacher will give them assignments and be available to talk virtually. Students won't sit on Zoom for hours a day.

"There will be some activities that students can do at home and then the teachers will check in on them and ensure that if they need a small mini lesson that can be provided," she said. 

AISD will notify families if their child has come into contact with an infected student or staff member and needs to quarantine. Earlier this summer, the Texas Education Agency said schools did not have to alert families of a COVID case on campus. TEA changed course Thursday and now advises districts to inform families.

Claire McInerny is a former education reporter for KUT.
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