Abilene ISD making contingency plans in case of campus virus closures

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – As smaller neighboring school districts shutter under growing COVID-19 cases, Abilene ISD’s superintendent says administrators are drafting plans in the event the same happens to its campuses.

Superintendent Dr. David Young could not share what details administrators are working on at the moment, but he did say remote instruction would be key to continue educating children at home. Remote conferencing is already at work for two elementary campuses closed this week in AISD for COVID exposure.

“I spent a lot of time this morning talking with staff about how are we going to roll out remote instruction when we have to do it,” said Dr. Young in a media call Tuesday afternoon.

During the afternoon call, Dr. Young was asked to unpack his feelings from the school board meeting the night before. The potential to change mask policies was on the agenda, drawing a huge turnout of parents and residents – most of whom were voraciously outspoken on forbidding the district from mandating face coverings.

Dr. Young answered diplomatically when asked how he felt about the high tensions in the board room, patting the backs of those sharing their views and the trustees for hearing out the nearly 40 public commenters.

The superintendent says he’s not heard of differing opinions resulting in clashes between parents or students on campus.

“I appreciate the people that came out and shared their opinion last night,” said Dr. Young. “I’m not aware of any conflict coming out of any parents or any students like that.”

While mask policies stayed the same, Monday’s meeting ushered in a few new matters.

The board approved emergency sick leave for full-time employees. Dr. Young says this is often referred to as “COVID pay” only to be used for specific virus-related purposes. Employees are covered for up to 80 hours.

“There’s a laundry list of qualifying reasons that are all COVID related: whether they have COVID themselves, they are close contact, they are the primary caregiver of a child that is positive or close contact, or I believe the fifth one is if they’ve had an adverse reaction to the vaccine,” said Dr. Young.

The trustees also unanimously approved the proposed tax rate and budget for the 2021-2022 school year, setting the budget at $148,869,151 and the tax rate at $1.2784 per $100 valuation.

This change increased the tax rate toward maintenance and operations costs by 4.10% for a $100,000 home, their rate annually raises by $36.50 per the language on the proposal.

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