ABILENE – The 2021-22 school year begins Thursday in the Abilene Independent School District, and aside from welcoming students back to campus for the 135th year of educating children in Abilene, the AISD will celebrate the first day of school by opening two new facilities: The LIFT and Dyess Elementary School’s new building.
The LIFT is the new home to ATEMS and 11 of the district’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and is located near the TSTC building on Loop 322. The 125,000 square foot building is the cornerstone of the 2018 bond project and will be a transformational facility in the Abilene ISD.
The new building at Dyess is the last of three new elementary schools that were built with funds from the 2018 bond project, joining Austin (opened August 2020) and Taylor (opened January 2021) as the newest elementary campuses in the AISD. From overhead the new building is shaped like an airplane and that theme carries throughout the inside of the new facility.
With the addition of The LIFT, secondary campuses throughout the Abilene ISD will be moving to an eight-period day, which also necessitates a change in start times at that level. To see the bell schedule for each level in the Abilene ISD, click here.
Bond Project Update
With those two facilities completed and ready to welcome students Thursday, only two projects remain to finish out the nearly $139 million bond package that Abilene voters passed in November 2018. Later this month, construction will begin at both Abilene High School and Cooper High School where each will receive significant upgrades in their fine arts areas.
Spaces at both campuses that housed CTE programs now at The LIFT will be renovated into new fine arts halls and practice spaces. The new band halls are scheduled to be complete at the end of February 2022 with completion of the rest of the project at each campus due to be completed in mid-July 2022.
New School Names
Three elementary schools in the Abilene ISD will be debuting new names with the start of the new school year as Alcorta, Purcell and Stafford elementary schools welcome students back to their campuses.
Alcorta Elementary School (formerly Jackson Elementary School) is named for former AISD teacher and Hardin-Simmons University professor Dr. Joe Alcorta Sr., while Purcell Elementary School (formerly Johnston Elementary School) is named for longtime coach and teacher Eugene Purcell. And Stafford Elementary School – the home to the AISD’s new model instruction campus and formerly Lee Elementary School – is named for Robert and Sammye Stafford, education pioneers to African American families in Abilene.
Name Dedication ceremonies will occur on each campus on Thursday, Aug. 26, at each campus. The ceremonies are open to the public and will take place in this order:
• 8:30 a.m. – Purcell Elementary School
• 9:45 a.m. – Stafford Elementary School
• 11 a.m. – Alcorta Elementary School
Health and Safety Protocols
The Abilene ISD recognizes that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic requires us to continue to collaborate with local, regional, state and national health experts. As we have learned since March 2020, we are in an evolving health situation that requires that we partner in good faith to put the best interests of the students, faculty and staff of the AISD at the center of every decision.
We have confirmed that the best educational experience for our students is in-person instruction and, therefore, our goal is to return fully to face-to-face instruction and work towards providing our students with the most normal school experiences that we can in the safest and healthiest ways possible. Remote instruction will not be an option for students at AISD during the 2021-2022 school year.
The primary priority each day is the health and safety of the students and staff in the AISD, and that priority is the driving force behind the guidelines put in place to keep our campuses as safe as possible during the 2021-22 school year.
While the 2021-22 school year begins with a clear indication that COVID continues to be a health risk, the Abilene ISD is challenged with the task of providing its students the best educational experiences while ensuring that they occur in a safe and healthy environment. That will be accomplished by providing multiple layers of protocols that have been shown to mitigate the spread of COVID.
The availability of the COVID vaccine, the state-wide restriction on the use of masks, and the inability to effectively provide remote instruction are the major considerations in the adjustment of these health and safety protocols from those that were in place for the 2020-21 school year.
Please click on this link to read through the health and safety protocols that will guide the Abilene ISD in 2021-22.