Georgetown ISD considers virtual learning option halfway through fall semester

Williamson County

GEORGETOWN (KXAN) — The Georgetown Independent School District is considering moving forward with implementing a virtual learning option for district students, following the passage of SB15.

SB15 offers up funding for Texas school districts who want to or already have remote learning programs if their students meet certain previous learning benchmarks.

Georgetown discussed the option during a Sep. 20 board meeting.

In order to qualify, a student must:

  • Have passed their STAAR Exams
  • Earned a C grade or higher in core curriculumn courses
  • Have no more than 10 percent unexcused absences the previous year
  • Online school can only be offered to 10% of the district’s overall enrollment

According to GTISD, some students interested in participating in virtual learning may not be eligible, as specific criteria for participation have been established by the legislature. 

Earlier this month, roughly 2,100 parents responded to a virtual learning interest survey that went out. About 700 students responded to the survey indicating interest in a virtual learning program.

The district also sent the survey to former Georgetown ISD students who un-enrolled from the district to enroll in a homeschooling program this school year.

Parent of two, Jennifer Cernoch is one of them.

“We decide that we would have to unenroll them, and I would do traditional homeschool,” said Cernoch.

Jennifer un-enrolled her two former Georgetown students due to the lack of a mask mandate and virtual learning option.

She’s now weighing her options again midway through the fall semester.

“If we sign on, it’s basically we’re virtual for the whole year,” said Cernoch.

Jennifer Cernoch’s two students participate in homeschooling.

One other stipulation is that enrollment in virtual learning would be a commitment for the entire school year, and students would not be permitted to participate in extracurricular activities that occur on campus, according to Georgetown ISD.

Currently, Georgetown ISD has 12,577 students enrolled. According to Georgetown ISD, 40 teachers expressed interest in supporting the virtual learning option.

The district is still processing what staffing would look like for in-person vs. remote learning, if this will disrupt in-person learning and whether or not students who aren’t excelling in virtual learning may have to transition back into the classroom.

According to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a Pfizer board member and the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, it’s possible children 5 and up will be approved for the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of October. That move depends on how the FDA reviews the clinical trial application.

“If I’m able to get my son vaccinated by the end of October, which I’m hoping for, and it’s what they’re saying, then he’ll go back to in-person,” said Cernoch. “I would say the majority of parents who sign up for this program, once their child is vaccinated, are going to want to sign their kid up for in-person.”

If the district decides to move forward with the virtual learning option, then it will most likely launch in the middle of October.

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