Katy ISD parents fight to reverse district's decision to end virtual learning

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- Katy Independent School District's virtual learning program for elementary-aged students is set to end on Oct. 15, but a group of parents hopes the district will rethink that decision.

"To not consider their health and safety is unimaginable," said Lee Nelson, who has two students in the district. "We're just asking for an alternative for children who aren't vaccinated."

Nelson, along with fellow Katy ISD parent Michael Burlak, started a petition to get the district to reconsider the program's discontinuation.

Their petition approached 2,500 signatures as of Friday night, but district representatives said they plan on having everyone back on campus before the end of the month.

"The health and well-being of our students remains a top priority as Katy ISD continues to navigate the challenges presented by COVID-19," district officials said in a statement. "With COVID cases on the decline in Katy ISD and only 3% of the student population enrolled in KVA (Katy Virtual Academy), we believe the best decision is for students to return to in-person learning on Monday, Oct. 18."

Burlak and Nelson say they'd feel comfortable putting their kids back in the classroom once they're approved to be vaccinated.

Katy ISD considered extending the virtual program due to the lack of a vaccine for younger kids, but that resolution was unanimously voted down by the school board Oct. 4.

"They're telling me I have to take the chance of getting my kid sick," questioned Burlak. "Do they enjoy watching the kids get sick?"

The district instituted virtual learning for elementary students back in August, which included the October end date.

However, as recently as Friday afternoon, there was information on the school's website saying the program would continue until a vaccine was approved. That has since been removed.

"The idea to continue KVA until a vaccine was authorized for children under 12 was an early consideration of KVA. Since then, circumstances have changed, including a decline in Katy ISD COVID cases," said the district in an e-mail. "This contributed to the Board of Trustees' decision, as well as the FDA's anticipation that vaccines for younger children could be authorized as early as the end of this month."

For more on Katy ISD's plans, follow Chaz Miller on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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