Mar 31, 2022 - News

Austin school district officials expect Ukrainian refugees

Illustration of children's hands raised against a background of colorful shapes
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Austin school district officials tell Axios they have been alerted by refugee officials that Ukrainian children may soon be attending area schools.

The big picture: The U.S. is preparing to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing the country through its refugee program and other pathways, the Biden administration announced last week.

  • As many as 12,000 Ukrainian refugees could be resettled in Texas.
  • At least 40-odd Austin families have volunteered to host Ukrainian refugees, per the website UkraineTakeShelter.com.
  • Yes, but: More than 4 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the unprovoked Russian invasion began.

What they're saying: "We have been told by the United States Refugee Admissions Program to expect Ukraine refugees in our schools soon," district spokesperson Jason Stanford told Axios without providing more specifics.

  • District officials say they don't know how many refugees to expect or when to expect them.
  • Messages left by Axios with the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and Refugee Services of Texas were not immediately returned.

What they're doing: The Austin school district's translation office has contacted its vendors about hiring Russian and Ukrainian interpreters.

"Not surprising they're sending them to Austin ISD because we are always eager to welcome refugees and anyone to our schools," Stanford said.

Flashback: Axios reported March 25 that Department of Homeland Security documents obtained showed that nearly 1,000 Ukrainians had shown up at the U.S.-Mexico border in March — a jump from the 272 encounters in February.

The bottom line: "I will order music now," the band director at McCallum High School said in an internal email obtained by Axios about teaching her kids how to play the Ukrainian national anthem.

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