HISD to offer virtual learning option for students too young to get COVID vaccine who have a compromised immune system

District released additional information regarding eligibility and applications Friday

Virtual learning will be made available for students who are too young to be vaccinated and have compromised immune systems

HOUSTON – Houston Independent School District, the largest school district in Texas, released information Friday about eligibility requirements for its virtual learning option which is designed for students too young to be vaccinated who also have a compromised immune system.

The news comes one week after the school board unanimously approved superintendent Millard House II’s mask mandate for the 2021-2022 school year.

“As part of my commitment to keeping our students and staff safe, I would like to update you on a new measure that I will be implementing. In addition to providing our quarantined students with the opportunity to participate in temporary virtual instruction, I have decided to launch a virtual academy for some of our most vulnerable students,” according to a statement released by HISD.

For a student to be eligible to participate in the HISD Virtual Academy option, they must meet the two following requirements:

  • Be aged 11 or under on Aug. 23, 2021, AND:
  • Be medically diagnosed with at least one of the following conditions designated by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention as a high-risk if exposed to the COVID-19 Virus: Asthma - Chronic lung disease - Compromised immune systems (including from smoking, cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, or use of corticosteroids or other immune weakening medications) - Diabetes - Serious heart disease (including heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathies, and hypertension) - Chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis - Liver disease - Severe obesity

Parents of eligible students will need to submit an online form and medical documentation from a licensed U.S. Medical Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine that confirms that the student has one of the conditions listed above. The medical documentation must be turned in to the school the child is currently enrolled at, or was planning to enroll in, by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 25.

Applications forms and medical documentation will be reviewed by the district to confirm eligibility. Students who are verified as eligible for HISD Virtual Learning Academy instruction will receive notification via e-mail, phone, and/or text message on Friday, Aug. 27. The virtual learning academy will begin Monday, Aug. 30. The academy will be taught by central staff so that campus teachers can focus on in-person students, according to House.

HISD Virtual Academy Requirements:

  • Students must be aged 11 or under on Aug. 23, 2021.
  • Students grade PK-4 through Grade 2 who qualify will be enrolled in the HISD Virtual Academy. - Parents understand that students must be logged in for the full four-hour instruction time to receive credit for attendance per Texas Educational Agency Guidelines. - Instruction will take place online, conducted through live streaming instruction and independent work/online modules. - Students’ eligibility to participate in campus-based extracurricular activities will be made on an individualized basis. - Electives will not be provided for students in the HISD Virtual Academy. - Students must follow the Houston ISD Student Code of Conduct at all times. - Parents must commit to creating and monitoring their Parent Portal account and attend parent/teacher virtual conferences, as requested by the teacher or administration. - Failure to meet the above expectations may result in the student returning to in-person instruction at their zoned or anticipated school. - HISD Virtual Academy students might be required to come on campus to participate in State-required academic assessments. - Upon closing the virtual academy option at the end of the semester, students will return to the school that they were originally enrolled in. This includes zoning, magnet or other choice placements.
  • Students grades 3 through 6 who are accepted into the HISD Virtual Academy will be enrolled into Texas Connections Academy at Houston. - Students enrolled at Texas Connections Academy are expected to abide by all the guidelines set forth by the campus. - Students enrolled at Texas Connections Academy through this virtual option are not allowed on campus while attending the virtual academy and are not able to participate in extracurricular activities and clubs. - Students must follow the Houston ISD Student Code of Conduct at all times.

House added that the district will use ESSER relief funds to cover the cost of virtual learning for eligible students.

For more information about HISD’s virtual academy, visit the district’s website.


Editor's note: The initial version of this article did not include the immune-compromised criteria in the headline. The important information presented within the body of the article is now reflected in the headline. We will provide additional information on eligibility and the application process when it becomes available Friday.

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