COVID-19 has altered all lives. Health regulations continue to keep most people at home and the use of face masks is enforced in public establishments. Plus, in-person gatherings are limited to more than 10 in Austin. Fall usually means back to school activities. Most Austin-area universities have returned to classes either in-person, online, or combined. But, primary schools return on September 8. Here are some fall updates, including back to school information and how the local economy is looking.
Austin Independent School District (AISD) returns to classes on September 8. But, the first four weeks will require most students to learn remotely. The district is providing devices to families who need them. Then, there will be buses with WiFi around the Austin area, so that students can have access to the internet. For the first two weeks, staff allowed on campus will be limited as to not exceed 25% building capacity. That staff capacity will be increased to 50% in the next two weeks, if appropriate.
In the next four weeks of school (October 6 – November 2), families will have a choice on what type of learning they would like to continue. Families will be able to continue remote off-campus learning or opt for on-campus learning. A hybrid learning option will also be available to high schoolers. Students who return to campus will do so in reduced numbers, following CDC and Austin Public Health guidelines. This includes daily screenings, frequent hand washing, social distancing, and consistent use of face masks.
You can learn more about AISD’s fall plans by visiting their Open for Learning webpage or their Open for Learning “Plans for the 2020-2021 School Year” document.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’s Austin Economic Indicators, the Austin economy continued to improve in July after taking a big hit at the beginning of the pandemic. Austin’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 percent in July, falling from June’s 6.8 percent and a big improvement from April’s 11.5 percent rate caused by COVID-19. There was also growth in consumer spending and general economic activity. As measured by credit and debit card spending, consumer spending is up by 7.9 percent as compared to January 2020. The Austin business cycle index, a measure of economic activity in the metro, increased to 196.9, a 1.2 percent increase from June. This is the second consecutive month it has seen growth.
The economic growth over July is welcome, and it will be interesting to see how the economy, and the amount of COVID cases, will be impacted by the start of school and the beginning of the fall holidays. Businesses can leverage the positive impact Austin is currently experiencing. Finally, the changing of seasons and new fall advertising campaigns could help keep this momentum.