Claire McInerny | KUT

Education Reporter

Claire McInerny is the education reporter for KUT. Previously, she was a statewide education reporter for NPR member stations in Indiana. She won an Edward R. Murrow award for a series she did there about resources for English Language Learners in the state’s rural school districts. Claire is originally from Kansas, and got a journalism degree from the University of Kansas. Since moving to Texas, she’s never missed winter. 

Ways to Connect

Families drive past Pease Elementary School in downtown Austin on Thursday in a parade to say goodbye to the school.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Ever since the pandemic forced Austin to close businesses and ask employees to work from home, downtown has been eerily silent. 

But the block between Rio Grande and West Avenue at 11th Street was jubilant Thursday. 

Norman Elementary School (pictured in 2018) has been leveled to make room for a new school that takes students from Norman and Sims Elementary.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District’s Board of Trustees voted Monday on names for two new schools in the district. Bear Creek Elementary will be the name of the new school being built in Southwest Austin. Norman-Sims Elementary will be the name of the new, modernized building at the former Norman Elementary site.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Read this story in English. 

Desirae Pierce y sus instructores en el Breath and Body Yoga han estado haciendo sus clases por la plataforma Zoom durante los últimos dos meses. El lunes comenzaron a tener pequeñas clases en persona en las instalaciones en Tarrytown.

Aunque las clases en línea se popularizaron, Pierce dice que está emocionada de volver a dar clases en persona.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Desirae Pierce and her teachers at Breath and Body Yoga have been doing classes over Zoom for the past two months. Today, they'll start holding small, in-person classes at the Tarrytown studio.

While online classes were popular, Pierce says, she's excited to bring back an in-person practice.

Frances Parra (clockwise from top left), Chantal Flores-Malagon, Maddy Pollack and Hudson Humphrey are all graduating high school this year.
Michael Minasi / KUT

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Si no fuera por el COVID-19, muchos estudiantes del último año de la escuela secundaria estarían caminando por un podio para recibir su diploma este mes. También estarían asistiendo al baile de graduación y a otros eventos para celebrar el fin de la secundaria.

St. Edward's University President George Martin told the community the COVID-19 pandemic was forcing the Catholic university to make budget cuts.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

St. Edward’s University in Austin is laying off professors, reducing the salaries of top administrators and postponing construction projects, the private Catholic university announced Tuesday.

The exact number of layoffs has not been confirmed.

Frances Parra (clockwise from top left), Chantal Flores-Malagon, Maddy Pollack and Hudson Humphrey are all graduating high school this year.
Michael Minasi / KUT

If it weren't for COVID-19, many high school seniors would be walking across a stage to receive a diploma this month. They’d also be attending prom and other events to celebrate the end of high school.

Instead, many seniors are having to reflect on their high school experiences alone and make different memories for some of the biggest milestones.

Path Salon in South Austin
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Read this story in English. 

Dos clientes se arreglaban el cabello  el viernes en el Path Salon en el sur de Austin. Las citas previas son la manera en que su dueño, Ryan Driggers, prueba los nuevos protocolos de seguridad en el salón de belleza.

Driggers dijo que la reapertura llega con muchas emociones.
 

Path Salon in South Austin
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Two clients are getting their hair done at Path Salon in South Austin today. The appointments are owner Ryan Driggers' way of testing new protocols at the salon.

Driggers said the reopening comes with a lot of emotions.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin Independent School District has spent $7.6 million in the last six weeks addressing changes related to the coronavirus pandemic, including new technology and software for online learning and increased pay for staff on the front lines. 

Travis High School is shuttered.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The transition to online learning has presented a new challenge for teachers: how to help students deal with the emotional turmoil of living through a pandemic. 

Travis High School, along with other schools in Austin ISD, are closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin Independent School District is asking all parents to update their contact information so teachers and principals can get in touch during the coronavirus pandemic. The district is trying to speak with every family to see if they need access to food, medical care or technology so their students can do assignments from home.

James Butler, AISD social and emotional learning specialist, offers two-minute mindfulness videos on YouTube.
YouTube screenshots

Austinites have been sheltering in place for a while now, but for households with a K-12 student, this week might have introduced a new challenge: virtual learning.  

A young person reads a school closure sign at Travis High School in South Austin on March 18.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Los estudiantes del Distrito Escolar Independiente (ISD, en inglés) de Austin recibirán calificaciones de aprobada o incompleta para sus clases este semestre pero no calificaciones A-F, según decidió la junta escolar el lunes por la noche. 

La junta de directores aprobó una resolución que aborda cómo tratar las calificaciones a medida que las clases se dictan a través de Internet debido a la pandemia del coronavirus.

A young person reads a school closure sign at Travis High School in South Austin on March 18.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Students at Austin Independent School District will receive pass or incomplete grades for their classes this semester, not A-F grades, the school board decided Monday night. 

Julia Reihs / KUT

A food service worker with the Austin Independent School District died Thursday after testing positive for COVID-19.

Patricia Hernandez, who worked at Casis Elementary for 10 years, had not been involved in any AISD food distribution since schools closed March 13, the district said.

The empty hallway at Dawson Elementary
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

School buildings will remain closed for an "indefinite period of time," Austin Independent School District Superintendent Paul Cruz announced Friday.

Anabel with her dog Howie at her home in Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Muchos de nosotros estamos contando el tiempo: los días que llevamos en casa. Los días que hemos estado trabajando desde casa. Los días desde que fuimos a la escuela o desde que perdimos un trabajo. 

Las personas en recuperación están acostumbradas a contar el tiempo como una forma de medir su sobriedad. 

Han pasado 1,308 días desde que Anabel (quien pidió a KUT no revelar su apellido) ha usado drogas o alcohol. Trece años desde que Chris Marshall dejó de beber. Dieciséis meses desde que Kevin Dick ha usado drogas.

Anabel with her dog Howie at her home in Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A lot of us are counting time: Days we’ve been sheltering in place. Days we’ve been working from home. Days since we went to school or since we lost a job. 

People in recovery are used to counting time as a way to measure their sobriety. 

Projections from a UT-Austin study finds Central Texans need to reduce social contact by 90% to avoid overloading hospitals.
UT-Austin

Click here to read this story in English. 

Un nuevo reporte de la Universidad de Texas indica que si todos los residentes de Austin reducen sus contactos con otros seres humanos en un 90%, los hospitales de la ciudad podrán ser capaces de tratar a todos los que se enfermen. 

Projections from a UT-Austin study finds Central Texans need to reduce social contact by 90% to avoid overloading hospitals.
UT-Austin

We know there will be an outbreak of COVID-19 in Austin, but the severity of the outbreak is up to us.

A new report from UT finds that if everyone in Austin reduces their human interaction by 90%, the city’s hospitals would be able to treat everyone who gets sick.

Joni Watkins and Matt Umberger sew face masks to donate to health care workers, on the porch of their South Austin home.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Hospitals and health care facilities say they don’t have enough equipment to protect doctors and nurses treating patients with COVID-19. Masks, gloves, gowns and face shields are all on backorder.

To get more masks to people who need them, the medical community here is asking Austinites to make their own.

A man waits to pick up children at the Capital Metro Child Care and Early Learning Center on Friday.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The governor has closed all K-12 schools, restaurants, gyms and other public spaces where 10 or more people can gather in Texas to curb the spread of COVID-19 – but his guidance did not include child care centers.

Because of that, businesses across the state are deciding for themselves whether to stay open.

Clockwise from top left, Ruby, Daniela, Kaisa, Hattie, Anderson, John, Eddie and Kate share what it's been like at home and out of school.
Courtesy photos

Schools in Central Texas are closed for at least three weeks to avoid spreading the coronavirus. With so many kids stuck at home (without the library, Thinkery or playdates to entertain them), we wanted to see how they are holding up.

The Austin Independent School District
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District announced Monday it will close schools through April 3 out of concern over COVID-19. Classes are expected to resume April 6.

Rosa Montalvo, a cafeteria employee, delivers food to parents parked outside Dawson Elementary school.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin Independent School District is preparing meals to hand out to students while school is closed amid COVID-19 concerns. 

UT Austin President Greg Fenves
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

UT Austin President Greg Fenves' wife, Carmel, has tested positive for COVID-19, he said in a letter sent to the UT community Friday.

A Healthy Horns sign on preventing the spread of germs
Julia Reihs / KUT

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Austin, but if it happens, the University of Texas wants to be ready.

Austin Independent School District Superintendent Paul Cruz
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Even though Superintendent Paul Cruz said he's leaving the Austin Independent School District, the process of school closures that started under his watch likely will not end. But where it goes from here is unknown.

Students eat lunch in the cafeteria of Highland Park Elementary. A sole person walks in an empty hallway.
Julia Reihs / KUT

About 4,500 fewer students are expected to be enrolled in the Austin Independent School District over the next five years, a new demographic report predicts.  

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