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Austin Public Schools making up for lost time

School making plans for prom, homecoming and graduation, which were lost last year to COVID

Students at Austin High School have a little more reason to look forward to this spring.

Austin Public Schools Superintendent David Krenz announced at Monday night’s Austin Public Schools Board meeting that the school has intentions of moving ahead with both prom and graduation with hope for a homecoming as well.

All three events were casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, taking away milestones students look forward to.

“We hope we’ll be doing it in a healthy way and we hope our staff and community steps in and takes part in those in the safest manner possible,” Krenz said.

However, students should be prepared for different looks to these events.

With details yet to be solidified, the district is aiming to hold prom for juniors and seniors only on May 15 from 3-7 p.m. with an after prom slated for seniors only.

According to AHS Principal Andrea Malo, the event will be limited to a Grand March only with students signing up for time slots. She said the event will likely be held on the front lawn of AHS with the after prom event to likely be held outside as well.

Graduation, which was turned into a massive parade of vehicles through Austin last year, is slated for its usual June 4 date, though details are still being worked out.

Homecoming, a traditional fall event, is being shifted to May during the week of the 17th. Again, details are in the works but Malo said the hope is that it will include Battle of Connects and coronation.

The news of these events getting back on the calendar came after it was announced that a majority of staff in the district have been vaccinated.

“Educated guess … we’re over 80 percent vaccinated,” said Human Resources Director Mark Raymond to the board. “We know for certain that 76 percent of our staff are vaccinated.”

Raymond explained the difference of the two numbers comes about from the timing that staff were vaccinated.

Earlier in the effort, some staff turned down getting vaccinated because of underlying issues included among other reasons, but they have since gotten vaccinated outside the district. Anybody who hasn’t been vaccinated through the school isn’t required to report it to the school.

Along the COVID-19 front, APS administration chose to stay in a hybrid model of learning in response to higher numbers in the state and in Mower County, Krenz said.

“It seems to be a good choice,” Krenz told the board. “There’s been no negative feedback. Students are back and doing well and COVID rates in the schools are low.”

In other news

• Executive Director of Educational Services John Alberts reported that the Eberhart Poetry Contest will be held virtual again this year, with a video of the district’s finalists reading their works distributed to social media and YouTube on Tuesday, April 20.

The students will read the poems along with someone who inspires them to write. Winners will be announced at the end of the video.

• The board voted to adopt the 2022-23 traditional calendar.