Houston ISD to stop offering virtual academy for students soon

HOUSTON – Houston Independent School District will no longer offer its virtual academy.

The academy was offered to students who were too young to be vaccinated or those who met the medical criteria.

“Mom and dad can only do so much,” HISD parent Liz Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez says she has her hands full with her kids.

“Mine are teens,” she said. “Seventeen, 18, and 13.”

She’s almost to the finish line, but she admits parenting in a pandemic is more of a marathon, not a sprint.

“My husband, he is currently at home right now. He was the one who stayed home with the kids, but a mom does everything,” she said. “So, it was like ‘Mom I still need you here,’ but HISD did pretty good because they did offer the virtual learning.”

HISD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Shawn Bird says the virtual academy was always meant to be temporary.

“Once vaccines were available and approved, we wanted to encourage families to take advantage of those vaccines,” he said. “So, we are going to be closing down the virtual academy.”

Students in quarantine will still have access to temporary online learning. Bird says they also have additional COVID testing sites throughout the district and in schools.

“While we are able to adapt and do a lot online, we think that the magic really happens in the classroom,” Bird said -- “When teachers and students are in the same room.”

He says around 640 students are in the virtual academy. He also noted that parents were notified of the closing a little before winter break.

Students are expected to return to the classroom Jan. 19.

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