City bans gatherings of 250 or more through May 1

At emergency session on Friday, AISD Board passes resolution to enable superintendent power to act quickly

While+the+order+did+not+specifically+recommend+school+closures%2C+the+authority+encourages+that+school+districts+explore+remote+teaching+and+online+options+to+continue+learning.

While the order did not specifically recommend school closures, the authority encourages that school districts “explore remote teaching and online options to continue learning.”

Shield staff reports

In a decision that will impact several spring events at McCallum and throughout the Austin school district, Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhart adopted orders Saturday that prohibit community gatherings of 250 people or more through May 1.

We need to make sure the City and County as a whole share the responsibility of minimizing the spread of this disease while it’s still in its relatively early stages in our area.”

— Dr. Mark Escott, interim Austin-Travis County health authority

“Collectively and individually, our decisions will determine how our health infrastructure can handle this virus,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the release. “This community must do all we can to minimize person-to-person passage. This new order and the voluntary choices being made all over our city are positioning Austin for the best possible outcome. We’re a city that sticks together and rises to the occasion and we’ll do it this time, too.”

The orders define community gatherings as “any indoor or outdoor event that is likely to bring together 250 people or more in the same room or other confined or enclosed space, such as an auditorium, theater, stadium area or event center, large cafeteria, restaurant, nightclub/bar or any other confined indoor or outdoor space.”

“We need to make sure the City and County as a whole share the responsibility of minimizing the spread of this disease while it’s still in its relatively early stages in our area,” interim Austin-Travis County health authority Dr. Mark Escott said in the release.

Eckhardt, who also signed off on the orders, echoed the sentiment of the mayor.

“With confirmed cases in Travis County, we must all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19. This new order allows us to slow the spread and protect the health and safety of our community.”

In addition to the ban, the health authority also recommends that the community cancel, postpone or not attend community gatherings with more than 125 people.

While the order did not specifically recommend school closures, the authority encourages that school districts “explore remote teaching and online options to continue learning.” The order further advises that school districts reschedule or cancel large events, develop a plan for citywide school closures, equip classrooms with hand sanitizer and tissues and educate students and staff about personal hygiene protocols to minimize risk of exposure.

On Friday, the Austin ISD Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting to discuss the district’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

As a board, we’re authorizing Dr. Cruz to take further mitigation measures, and we will provide funding to support these efforts.”

— Geronimo Rodriguez, AISD Board of Trustees president

The board unanimously passed a resolution that gives superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz authority to act unilaterally to make purchases outside the normal contract and procurement requirements (to clean and disinfect campuses), to make necessary technology purchases to provide ongoing learning and to compensate employees who may be affected by the suspension of classes and to apply for waivers regarding instructional minutes and low attendance with the Texas Education Agency.

“During these times it is important that we act responsibly and swiftly to attend to the needs of our students, staff and families,” AISD Superintendent Paul Cruz said in an AISD press release posted to its website on Saturday. “I thank the board for taking this action for the well being of our community.”

Board of Trustees president Geronimo Rodriguez spoke for the board in explaining its rationale for the resolution.

“The safety of our students, families and colleagues is at top-of-mind during the global pandemic,” Rodriguez said in the release. “As a board, we’re authorizing Dr. Cruz to take further mitigation measures, and we will provide funding to support these efforts.”

To read the mayor’s order in its entirety, click here.

To read the latest info from Austin ISD regarding coronavirus, click here.