After Austin Independent School District (AISD) indicated they will delay the start of in-person instruction at the district’s schools in the coming school year, the YMCA of Austin has announced they will provide daycare that includes “virtual learning support.”
Although they note the program dates could change, the YMCA of Austin will provide daycare from 7:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on August 17 through September 4, except that the programs will last from August 11 to September 22 at IDEA Parmer Park.
The programs cost $195 per child each week, even though the AISD and public charter school facilities are already taxpayer-funded institutions.
“We are committed to serving our community by providing families with quality childcare. These programs will align with the adjusted school calendars to support their virtual learning environment,” YMCA of Austin says on its website.
On July 14, AISD said that the district would not have in-person instruction for the first three weeks of the school year, which begins on August 18.
The decision followed pressure from an Austin area teachers union, Education Austin, that clamored for a nine-week delay to the start of in-person teaching in the coming academic year.
The school district stated that they prioritize “the health and safety of our students and staff” and that they would “continue to look to federal, state and local authorities for guidance and directives.”
While the reopening of Texas schools has been the subject of partisan debate, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published advice for school administrators on how to safely transition back to in-person learning.
The CDC highlights the necessity of schools, saying they are an “important part of the infrastructure of communities.”
“Schools also provide critical services that help to mitigate health disparities, such as school meal programs, and social, physical, behavioral, and mental health services,” the CDC said.
“School closure disrupts the delivery of these critical services to children and families, and places additional economic and psychological stress on families, which can increase the risk for family conflict and violence.”
However, a majority of registered voters in Texas are uneasy about the prospect of having students back in schoolhouses.
Quinnipiac University polled registered voters in Texas from July 16 to July 20 about a variety of issues, including the safety of schoolchildren returning to in-person learning this fall.
59 percent of respondents said it would be unsafe for elementary, middle school, and high school students to physically go back to school. 36 percent said it would be safe.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.