HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- School districts in the greater Houston area are coming up with options for families who may not be 100% ready to send their students back to the classroom amid the newest COVID wave.
Last week, newly appointed Houston ISD's superintendent Millard House II said that he would be proposing a mask mandate as students return to class, despite Gov. Greg Abbott's orders.
Now, three area districts have taken precautions a step further by back-pedaling on the decision to have all students on campus for in-person learning this fall.
On Saturday, officials from Conroe ISD announced they would be offering a limited virtual learning program to some students, similar to most of last year's semesters.
In-person classes are still set to begin on Wednesday, Aug. 11, while the online program will not start before Aug. 23.
Students in grades Pre-K through sixth are eligible for the virtual program, which will only last one semester. Parents will have to fill out an application on behalf of their child before Tuesday, Aug. 10.
According to the district's website, state lawmakers did not approve funding for virtual learning for the entire 2021-2022 school year during the most recent legislative session.
The website also indicated that the decision was made based upon the current COVID resurgence in the area.
Fort Bend ISD
On Sunday, Fort Bend ISD followed up by announcing a similar program for families that aren't ready to send their kids back to class yet.
The district released its full virtual learning program plan on Monday.
While in-person classes will still begin on Wednesday, Aug. 11, the new virtual program will launch Aug. 30 with limited enrollment.
Interested families should note these key dates.
- August 9-13: Application window opens for families of students in Pre-K - 6
- August 16: Families are notified of acceptance
- August 23-27: Student-parent orientation sessions take place
- August 30: Virtual learning program launches
Note that students who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine (ages 12 and up) and students in grades 7 through 12 will not be admitted.
Participation in the virtual learning program will last for the entire fall semester. Students won't be allowed to transfer to face-to-face instruction prior to January 2022. The virtual program's availability for the spring 2022 semester will be assessed during the fall.
FBISD also noted the surge of COVID as a reason for their decision.
Cy-Fair will hold a temporary virtual learning option for students in kindergarten through sixth grade. It will be extended as necessary until a vaccine is authorized for children under the age of 12.
But note that once a vaccine is widely available, that virtual option will no longer be offered.
Teachers will not be assigned to virtual and in-person instruction at the same time.
The application for the program is now open. Families will have until Thursday, Aug. 12 at 8 a.m. to apply. The first day of school is Monday, Aug. 23.
For more information, visit Cy-Fair ISD's website.
We're still checking other districts to determine if they will hold virtual learning options.
Tomball ISD said it will not at this time due to a lack of funding.
Lamar Consolidated ISD said in its latest COVID-19 protocols update that it is still researching virtual learning options for a limited number of students and will provide more information soon. The option would only be for families concerned with sending their students to school due to COVID-19 fears.