Education

Austin ISD, the University of Texas, Austin Community College, Texas A&M University, charter schools, legislative issues, and anything else related to K-12, public education, higher education and workforce development in Central Texas, Travis County, and Austin.

Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz announces his resignation in February.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

There’s a lot we don’t know about the future for Austin’s students: Will Austin ISD's school buildings be open in August? Will online learning still be happening? Will there be sporting events or gatherings of any kind?

The AISD community also doesn't know who will be leading the district when the next school year starts. 

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.

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.

Ava Karimi is one of 50 students who will graduate from UT's Dell Medical School on May 21.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Ava Karimi wanted to study medicine for as long as she can remember. But while growing up in Iran, she couldn’t because of her religion. 

“I actually couldn’t go to university,” she said. “It was basically more like a dream than a reality.” 

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.

Dr. Zhao Chen, a graduate student at UT Austin, has been stuck in Dubai since February.
Courtesy of Zhao Chen

Zhao Chen arrived in Austin four years ago to do cancer research at UT. He gave up a lot for the experience, leaving his wife and newborn son in China. He also suspended his ophthalmology practice in hope of advancing a different area of medicine. 

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. 

UT Austin President Greg Fenves speaks during a town hall meeting about sexual misconduct among UT faculty and staff in January.
Julia Reihs / KUT

University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves is leaving the state’s flagship college for Emory University, where he will become president Aug. 1, he told the UT community in an email Tuesday. 

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.

UT freshman Andrew Dareing moves his belongings out of the Jester-West dorm after campus shut down to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Andrew Dareing is from Mertzon, Texas – a town with 743 people, where the only stoplight is a four-way blinking yellow light.

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.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin Independent School District is canceling large gatherings and other events through April 3 in response to COVID-19, Superintendent Paul Cruz announced Thursday.

A student uses hand sanitizer on UT Austin campus
Julia Reihs / KUT

UT Austin said Monday it's preparing to move all classes online if COVID-19 cases are confirmed in the Austin area. The university is also advising students on how to avoid spreading the disease and how to travel safely over spring break. 

A sign tells visitors at St. David's Medical Center to alert staff if they've traveled to a region with cases of COVID-19 and have certain respiratory symptoms.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Texas State University is keeping an eye on 10 people who recently traveled to countries where the coronavirus is actively spreading, a spokesperson confirmed to KUT on Tuesday. The individuals –nine students and a faculty member – are self-quarantining at their homes off campus.

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.

Rice University
Rice University Police Department

Rice University canceled all in-person classes and undergraduate labs this week in an attempt to avoid spread of the new coronavirus after an employee tested positive, university officials announced Sunday.

Austin ISD students walk up the stairs of Kealing Middle School.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

There are more Hispanic and black students attending Austin Independent School District’s magnet programs this school year than in past ones, according to data the school board reviewed this week. Getting more students of color into magnet programs, which are academically tougher and require students to apply to get in, has been a goal of the superintendent and the school board.

Former UT Coach Michael Center Sentenced To 6 Months In Connection With Admissions Scandal

Feb 24, 2020
Michael Center exits the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Austin on March 12, 2019.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Former University of Texas at Austin tennis coach Michael Center was sentenced Monday to six months in prison in a Boston federal court for his involvement in the nationwide admissions scandal that implicated more than 50 people, including celebrities Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

Save Pease signs
Julia Reihs / KUT

Parents of students at Pease Elementary, one of four schools the district voted in November to close, say they are dismayed the Austin Independent School District has revoked previously approved transfer requests.

Downtown Round Rock
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Round Rock Independent School District's Board of Trustees approved boundary changes Thursday for six schools. The changes will affect students at Caraway, Elsa England, Herrington, Joe Lee Johnson and Teravista elementary schools and at C.D. Fulkes Middle School. 

State Board of Education candidate Robert Morrow is known for wearing a jester's hat.
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

With his history of sexist, racist rhetoric and incomprehensible, conspiracy-laden rants, Robert Morrow has become one of the most unifying political figures in Texas.

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.

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