Austin-area school districts weigh options for reinstating virtual learning

Education

LOCKHART, Texas (KXAN) —The Lockhart Independent School District is in the process of surveying parents to see how many are interested in virtual learning for the foreseeable future.

This comes after an outbreak of COVID-19 cases within its district, forcing hundreds of students to quarantine.

Lockhart ISD said so far, just under 700 parents out of almost 6,200 students have responded to the survey, saying they’re interested in virtual learning.

Megan Molina is one of those parents. Her kids mean the world to her. That’s why it was so scary when her son recently got COVID-19.

“We expected this to happen, they opened schools,” Molina said. “I think virtual options should be a choice.”

She was happy to get the letter from Lockhart ISD, asking for feedback from parents ahead of possibly bringing back a virtual option for kindergarten through 12th grades.

“With students being in class, they’re obviously being exposed,” Molina said.

Senate Bill 15, which is awaiting Abbot’s signature, is a big factor in this new proposal for Lockhart ISD.

Under the bill, the state would fund virtual learning again but would only cover 10% of a district’s total population.

“At least if we can get our feet on the ground with how many parents are interested, then we can put forth a plan to bring forward,” a district representative said in a September 4 special school board meeting.

Hays CISD is also working on a plan to expand its Homebound Academy to all students. Right now, it’s only for those who are medically exempt.

“We have about 300 students enrolled in that Homebound Academy, and we would be looking at expanding that up to 2,100 students,” Hays CISD Chief Communications Officer Tim Savoy said. “One of the challenges with that is going to be finding teachers.”

Molina hopes for the sake of all kids, districts make sure their plans are thorough.

“I do want my students to be virtual, but at the same time, I want a designated teacher assigned to each of them,” she said.

Lockhart ISD parents have until September 12 to respond to the survey. From there the district will have a better idea of how to move forward.

If SB 15 is signed by the governor, virtual learning would only be funded through September 2023.

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