'We want to be somewhat ready': Edinburg CISD preparing for possibility of virtual learning
Senate Bill 15 has still not been signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, but school districts like the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District already have plans to implement the program.
Edinburg CISD superintendent Dr. Mario Salinas says that parents in the district have expressed interest in virtual learning out of fear for their children’s health.
“I personally have spoken to parents who say that, ‘My children are not going to go to school yet because they’re medically fragile, they're sick, and I'm afraid to take my children onto the campuses due to the fact that if they get sick, they get seriously ill,'" Salinas said. “And some other parents are simply afraid of COVID and they have reached out and they have told me, ‘My children will be at home until COVID goes away.’”
Only ten percent of students in each school district can receive virtual learning. And in order to qualify, a student must meet certain criteria. This includes passing the state assessment and foundational courses, as well as not having an excessive amount of unexcused absences.
If too many qualified students opt-in for remote learning, Dr. Salinas says he will look to the state education agency for guidance.
“But nonetheless we are planning based on those parameters and then when the TEA sends their final guidance, we’ll adjust our plans to meet the guidance for the TEA,” Salinas said.
In cases where a child or the sibling of a child that is immunocompromised does not qualify for virtual learning, Edinburg CISD is considering putting forth their own funding.
“Whether they qualify or not, we just forgo the funding and offer virtual instruction,” Salinas said.
Salinas explains that teachers who participate in the remote program need to different than those teaching in-person.
“You can’t be concurrently teaching to children in-person while at the same time teaching virtual instruction," Salinas said. "The law also says that we can’t force teachers to teach virtually, that's the law. So, our plan is to recruit teachers to do nothing but virtual instruction.”
And Edinburg CISD has already made the proper arrangements to be ready for the roll out of the program.
“We’re working on an application as we speak to get out to our parents so that we can start preparing for the day when the governor signs the law, we want to be somewhat ready to offer virtual instruction to our children,” Salinas said.
Dr. Salinas said the district is taking this very seriously as they know many students did not return for in person classes this year and they do not want them to fall behind. There is still no word on when Gov. Abbott will sign Senate Bill 15, but we will keep you updated.