AUSTIN, Texas — Summer vacation is underway, but the start of the upcoming school year isn't too far off. With more people vaccinated and COVID-19 cases declining, many school districts are weighing their options when it comes to in-person or virtual learning.
On Friday, June 18, Austin ISD officially announced that all students would return to on-campus learning for the 2021-22 school year with no virtual learning option. However, on July 26, the district changed its stance and announced that virtual learning options will be offered for some kindergartners through sixth-graders this fall.
Some other Central Texas districts are also returning to all in-person learning, but others will continue to offer a virtual option or have yet to make a final decision.
Here's a breakdown of where some local districts stand on the topic:
Austin ISD will offer virtual learning options for some kindergarteners through sixth-graders this fall. The number of students who get the virtual learning option will be limited. In-person instruction starts on Aug. 17.
Here's the district's full announcement:
Austin ISD is ready to start in-person learning Aug. 17, and now there’s a, K–6 virtual option available for families as well.
Level set: The COVID vaccines aren’t approved for children younger than 12, and Austin is approaching Stage 5 protocols, but the Governor’s Executive Order 36 prohibits school districts from mandating masks.
Why it matters: About 5% percent of enrolled families said they’d be interested in a virtual option in the district’s recent survey.
- “It’s our goal for students to take advantage of our safe and ready schools, but we also heard some of the needs that have been expressed, so we are proud to offer a K-6 virtual option for families that feel they need them,” said Chief of Schools Anthony Mays.
- "Our plan is to meet all student's needs whenever possible," said Superintendent Stephanie S. Elizalde.
What it will look like: Students will attend class and turn in work over BLEND, the main platform for remote learning used last school year. It’ll include live, synchronous instruction as well as independent, asynchronous learning.
- Unlike last year, a teacher will only teach either in-person OR virtually this school year. There will be no concurrent teaching.
How to apply: Families can read more on our website and apply. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5.
- Got more questions? Families may call the Parent Engagement Support Office helpline at 512-414-0726 for English or Spanish support with the application form beginning Monday, August 2 at 9:00 am and continuing through Thursday, August 5 at 6:00 pm.
Families may utilize our Let’s Talk communications platform by texting 512-886-6434 or visiting www.austinisd.org/letstalk.
Eanes ISD said it plans to return to pre-pandemic operations next fall. The district told KVUE it will not have remote learning.
Hays CISD offers an online learning program for 8th through 12th graders upon counselor approval, based on academic needs and student readiness to work independently. Learn more.
Lake Travis ISD will not offer a virtual learning option for the 2021-22 school year and will return to in-person instruction and activities for all students.
The district said it released a parent questionnaire in March to gauge interest in a potential remote learning option for the upcoming school year and of the approximately 2,800 responses received, roughly 70% were not interested in a virtual learning option.
Leander ISD will offer a virtual learning option for the 2021-22 school year.
After hundreds of LISD families expressed an interest in remote learning, the district's board approved a framework to provide 100% remote learning for PreK thru 12th-grade students to start the school year.
The district will offer a limited K-12 virtual learning option for students.
"Because the Texas Legislature and TEA did not authorize a virtual option, the District will use its ESSER funds and local funding to provide a limited virtual learning academy," PfISD said. "PfISD expects to fund its limited K-12 Virtual Learning Academy, up to one year, for approximately $2.6 million. ESSER funds will cover $1 million of the $2.6 million; the remaining $1.6 million will come from local revenue."
Applications to join virtual learning must be completed by Aug. 2. Families who completed PfISD’s K-12 Virtual Learning Academy application in May 2021 will receive an email notifying them of their acceptance and a request to confirm their participation
Round Rock ISD is offering a virtual learning option for children in kindergarten through the sixth grade for the Fall 2021 semester. The district said this would allow time for a vaccine to be approved for kids over 12-years-old on Thursday, July 29.
Parents can enroll their students in the program by completing a transfer form on the district's website. There is no cap on the number of students. Students can also return back to in person instruction at anytime or vice versa.
The school district will hire teachers to teach virtual classes only, according to its website.
Originally, Round Rock ISD was not going to offer virtual learning.
The district announced on June 3 that they would not be able to offer a virtual learning option for the next year due to House Bill 1468, which would have funded a remote option for RRISD schools, failing to pass during the Texas Legislative Session.
The TEA has a list of public schools that offer online learning programs and you don't have to live in the district to participate.
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