Some Houston-area school districts offering optional virtual learning program

FORT BEND COUNTY – Several school districts will welcome back students to campus in the coming days after the coronavirus pandemic forced kids to learn from home for much of last year.

As we look ahead to the new school year, some school districts are now weighing their options on whether to offer the option of virtual learning again because of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in our area.

On Sunday, Fort Bend ISD said: “With data continuing to show surging COVID-19 infection rates, FBISD began work this weekend to outline a limited-enrollment virtual instruction option. In-person instruction will begin Wednesday as scheduled on our campuses. We will have more detailed information and a timeline for the new Virtual Learning Program posted on the district website and distributed to FBISD families tomorrow, Monday, August 9, 2021.”

Stephanie Shamma has a little one that’s 11-months old but says a virtual learning option is a good idea.

“I have friends who have kids that are under the age of 12 they can’t get the vaccine, so I see the concern for a lot of parents sending their kids back to school it’s hard to enforce kids to wear a mask. I see lots of kids pulling them off all day long, so I understand the appeal of virtual learning,” Shamma said.

“Well, I would like to go back to school,” said Sebastian Carlos-Gonzalez, a 12th-grade student at Dulles High School.

Sebastian Carlos Gonzalez will be a senior at Dulles High School. He says he enjoys face-to-face instruction and believes online learning could help with social distancing.

“Just so like it can be split in between virtual and in-person so that there is not as many people inside the school at the same time,” he said.

Conroe ISD is offering a limited online learning option for students in the district.

“In response to the resurgence of COVID-19 in our community and because students under the age of 12 are not eligible for vaccinations, Conroe ISD will be offering a limited virtual program for students in grades PreK-6. This program is by application only and will be offered for one semester only. The application will close on Tuesday, August 10, 2021.”

The surge of COVID-19 cases in Texas has many thinking about the safety of students.

“I think I’m for virtual learning it kind of reduces the risk of people getting COVID which I’m all for,” said Zane Martinez, an 11th-grade student at Clements High School.

Harmony Public Schools said they will offer a TEA-approved “remote conferencing” option that will allow students a limited ability to attend classes from home if they are sick, have been exposed to COVID-19, or are in a COVID-19 high-risk group.

The district issued the following statement Tuesday:

“Harmony Public Schools will offer a TEA-approved “remote conferencing” option that will allow students a limited ability to attend classes from home if they are sick, have been exposed to COVID-19, or in a COVID-19 high-risk group.

Per TEA requirement, the total amount of time for remote instruction may not exceed more than 20 instructional days for the entire 2021-22 school year. In order to be eligible, students must meet certain criteria.

Harmony Public Schools is also announcing a new update regarding contact tracing and reporting of potential COVID-19 cases on campuses. We will continue to implement the following measures if a student or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19:

·       Inform parents if a child or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 in their classroom

·       Conduct contact tracing to determine the potential spread of COVID-19 in schools

·       Provide transparency to the public by continuing to update HPS’ COVID-19 “case count” dashboard

·       Continue to work with local pharmacies and community health organizations to host on-campus vaccination clinics for staff members and eligible students age 12 and older.”