850 AISD teachers boycott resumption of in-person classes, raise multiple safety concerns


Nina Martinez

Boone Elementary School returned to in-person classes on Monday, Oct. 5. The school is located on Crawford Dr. in SW Austin.

On Oct.5, Austin Independent School District (AISD) resumed in-person learning at a 25% building capacity as a precaution against COVID-19. The school district has followed a phased-in approach outlined on the AISD website for allowing faculty, staff and students to return to campuses. 

The phased-in process began the first four weeks of school, which started Sept. 8 and required off-campus remote learning. As the start of the next four weeks of school began Oct.5, campuses welcomed back students who chose to return for on-campus learning. 

The return of in-person learning has left members of the AISD community with a considerable amount of concerns. AISD teachers have voiced their disagreements and worries with the administration’s decision to resume in-person classes. 

Recently resigned AISD teacher of 20 years, Courtney Perry, expressed her disapproval towards the lack of communication she, former colleagues and parents had received to inform them of the planning for classes that started Oct. 5. 

“[AISD] has not engaged community members in how the re-opening process would work, and they’ve changed the guidance and way things would be handled numerous times,” Perry said. She adds that the administration’s handling of the situation has “caused an incredible amount of stress within the community.” 

Perry went on to mention how the requirement of all staff members to return to campuses is one of her biggest concerns, as she feels it is not necessary. “Even if classrooms are only assigned two students to physically attend, teachers will have to know how to simultaneously teach those students in the classroom and those attending online,” Perry discussed. 

A current AISD kindergarten teacher of six years, who wishes to remain anonymous due to job concerns, expressed similar disapproval of AISD’s decisions and communication strategies. She spoke of the noticeable absence of instructions on how to teach students both in-person and online. “No one has given us information on that. We’re just making things up, but we haven’t been told anything,” she said. 

She and her colleagues were left with over 20 unanswered questions after their staff meeting last Thursday asking about basic procedures for disinfection, where lunch and recess would be held and other questions of that nature. 

“It’s not that our administration is not trying, they have just been working day and night and there are too many problems to solve for the people assigned to solve them. I feel like we are going to improv the first day which sounds dangerous in a pandemic and definitely could be uncomfortable for students,” the kindergarten teacher said. 

Perry and the current kindergarten teacher at AISD acknowledge how they feel the first week of in-person classes is going to be unlike any other return to school. “I think they’re going to be flying an airplane while they’re still building it,” said Perry and “the schools that will be opening will not be the schools that the students left in the spring,” said the kindergarten teacher. 

As of Oct. 1, 850 AISD teachers have pledged not to return to their classrooms on Oct. 5 due to their concerns of the threat COVID-19 has on both themselves and their students, the Statesman reported.