District excuses absences, cancels student group trips to help reduce coronavirus risk

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Jordan Feeman photo

The attendance rate dropped today because of the district’s announcement.

Natalie Brink, News Editor

To help reduce the risk of students contracting the coronavirus, the district decided last night at the Board of Trustees meeting it will count all today’s absences as excused. This morning, after two people in Austin tested positive for the coronavirus, school districts like Austin ISD and institutions of higher education like the University of Texas closed schools for the day.

“[The coronavirus] could affect so many things depending on how this carries out,” college and career transition coordinator Sarah Spradling said. “There’s so many ramifications. I think students have a reasonable right to be worried about various things. But in regards to education, I think just keep on trucking like you’re in school every day.”

Earlier this week, the district canceled all upcoming out of state and in state travel for student groups. Some trips that were canceled include the girls and boys lacrosse trip to Florida, an English student-teacher trip to Iceland and the Legacies’ trip to Disneyworld.

“I feel like Disney is not that clean,” Legacy Emily Reeder, who did not go on the trip after it was cancelled even though some of her teammates still went, said. “It makes no difference [whether I went or not] if they bring [the coronavirus] back. I’ll still get it from them. I’m with them all the time.”

The FRC robotics season ended before it began with the cancellation of Worlds, which would have been held in Houston April 15-18, a competition of 20,000 students from around the globe. The first competitions of their season were supposed to take place this weekend.

“It’s like doing a project,” robotics member Jett Chafin said. “You finish it and the day you go to turn it in, you have the best one in class, your teacher goes ‘I’m not counting this as a grade anymore.’ You just did all that work for nothing.”

Even though FTC Robotics team members were able to compete in their season up until their Worlds competition, which n was canceled as well. If the FTC Worlds had continued as scheduled, it would have brought people from Brazil and the Middle East to Houston, where there are already 17 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

“Some people were more impacted than I was, but it sucked,” Chafin said. “When you’re bringing [to] the center of Houston 20,000 people to an event, the chances that one of those people has the coronaviruses are actually pretty high. In terms of preventing the spread, I think it was necessary, even if it sucks.”

The district said on their COVID-19 webpage that LISD is preparing for all contingencies as they provide a calm, safe and welcoming learning environment for our families and students. If ithe district switches to an online class structure after spring break, graphic design teacher Erica Dawson said she would be able to still conduct her courses. 

“I deliver all of my content online anyway,” Dawson said. “It might be a little bit slower, and I have to differentiate a little bit more for some of us who aren’t able to access the technology, but in terms of throwing off the rest of the year, it’s not going to hurt us that bad.”

The coronavirus has infected more than 1,600 people in the United States. Though the World Health Organization estimates the mortality rate of the virus is 3.4%, it is considered especially dangerous for people above the age of 60.

“I feel like the virus has been blown out of proportion in a way, because for kids our age it doesn’t concern me too much,” junior Alexander Beaucamp said. “At the same time, I agree that we should take these precautions so we don’t spread it to older people.”