South Texas ISD relocates local funds to offer virtual learning

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Many schools are getting ready to open their doors, but without the state’s support to continue virtual learning and Gov. Abbott’s decision to lift mask mandates in schools, many parents are skeptical to send their children to in-person classes.

Teachers and staff are making everything possible to make this a safe return to classrooms. Dr. Tony Lara, superintendent of South Texas Independent School District, says classrooms are implementing safety measures to reopen, like putting up plastic dividers.

“We are prepared to come back 100 percent face-to-face, but we’ve also started a new initiative,” Dr. Lara said.

That initiative being a virtual academy. With the state no longer supporting virtual learning financially, the board approved the allocation of local funds and will use elementary and secondary school emergency relief grants, if needed.

“We are offering those students, who may not necessarily be ready to come back, or those students who thrive in that type of setting, the option to do so,” Dr. Lara said.

The virtual academy is for sixth through ninth graders attending South Texas ISD. And Dr. Lara says it will look a lot different than it did over the course of the pandemic.

“It’s going to be a very flexible schedule,” Dr. Lara said. “It won’t be sitting in front of a computer screen for eight hours a day.”

Dr. Lara says virtual learning might be a way of the future and plans to slowly add more grade levels over time.

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