AUSTIN, Texas — Austin's top doctor is recommending that middle and high schools transition to remote learning following the winter break. This comes after the city entered Stage 5 of the COVID-19 risk-based guidelines.
At a briefing with the Travis County Commissioner's Court Dec. 29, Dr. Mark Escott said he is recommending that middle schools and high schools in Travis County move to virtual learning for two weeks following winter break "to reduce the community risk and to reduce the risk of transmission within the school system."
He said that as positivity increases, "we can expect that if we continue the way we have that we're going to see increasing transmission associated with schools, particularly high schools and middle schools."
Escott has previously said that leaders would like to preserve in-person learning for elementary-aged students as much as possible. He said data suggests those students are the ones who benefit the most from in-person learning and are most impacted by having to transition to virtual learning.
Schools in Austin and Travis County are also advised by Austin Public Health to suspend or postpone extracurriculars and other in-person activities where masking and social distancing are not possible.
Health officials are also recommending that any student or staff member who traveled or gathered during the holiday to get a COVID-19 test seven days after the travel or gathering "even if they're asymptomatic," Escott said.
The City of Austin is currently in Stage 5 of its COVID-19 risk-based guidelines, which urges citizens to not travel, to not gather with people outside their household, and to not eat or shop at businesses indoors.
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