After a key bill failed to be passed by the Texas Legislature, local school districts may have to scrap a couple of virtual education programs.
Both Lamar Consolidated ISD and Fort Bend ISD had plans for some sort of virtual programs for students next year, but a key bill that would have funded those programs did not get enough votes from the legislative session.
House Bill 1468 would have provided the funding for virtual academies for school districts and charter schools. But while the bill passed the Senate, the bill died when House Democrats walked out near the end of the legislative session to kill a voting bill.
That led to Texas education commissioner Mike Morath stating that the emergency waiver that allowed Texas school district to offer virtual education would not be extended to the 2021-22 school year.
LCISD is planning to have a Digital Scholars Program for selected high school students, but the district already announced that it would not offer a virtual learning option for all students.
LCISD has not officially announced that its virtual program has be scrapped, but without state funding and support, the program seems to be dead on arrival.
School districts in Texas now would have to petition the Texas Education Agency for a waiver to have virtual learning. There’s also some federal funding for some schools to have a form of online education.
Fort Bend ISD anticipated initiating a pilot Virtual Learning Program to serve students who are at a medically documented higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
But because of House Bill 1468 failing to pass, FBISD announced that it will not offer a virtual program for the coming school year and all students will have to go to face-to-face learning.
“Information from the state is disappointing and we understand it may create frustration and anxiety for parents and guardians with students who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19,” a FBISD statement said.
The district is looking into what options it may have for the upcoming school year, including homebound services. More information on homebound services can be found on the district website at https://www.fortbendisd.com/Page/99068.