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Friday marks deadline to sign up for Denton ISD's new K-8 Virtual Academy

As of Wednesday, about 300 students are signed up for the K-8 Virtual Academy, according to the district.

DENTON, Texas — The deadline for Denton ISD parents to sign up their K-8 students for the district’s new, all-virtual school is Friday.

Parents have until 11:59 p.m. Friday to sign up their student for the Denton ISD K-8 Virtual Academy for the 2021-2022 school year. After that deadline, the district said the online commitment form will become a waiting list.

The district said they’re looking to have around 500 total students in the Virtual Academy. As of Wednesday, about 300 students are signed up, according to the district.

“What we learned over the past year, was that we have some students that are doing absolutely wonderful and thriving in the virtual network and learning from home online,” Virtual Academy principal Caleb Leath said. “It’s been something that we’ve been talking about and exploring for several years.”

Leath said they are currently recruiting and hiring Denton ISD teachers to teach at the Virtual Academy. The plan is for these educators to teach virtually from the same school building, while their students stay at home.

“I think the future of education is going to have a lot of hybrid-type learning, a lot of virtual learning for students,” Leath said. “Think about colleges: They already offer this, and so we want to be able to provide a platform that provides this avenue for our students, not just because of COVID.”

Examples of student schedules, by grade level, can be found on the Virtual Academy website.

But Leath admitted the Virtual Academy won’t be an option for every Denton ISD K-8 family.

“We get it. This is not for everybody. This is going to be for those students who really thrive in this environment,” Leath said. “It's going to be for families who, maybe in the fall, they're not quite ready to send their students back to school due to the pandemic.”

Terry Poindexter signed up her daughter, Kendall, for the Virtual Academy for the upcoming school year. Kendall, 7, is a current first-grader at Ginnings Elementary School.  

“Because she's doing so well with (her teacher), I see that it is something that can keep going, since she has a better structure, and the grades are matching up,” Poindexter said. “So, if that's the case, and it stays that course, I'm all for it.”

The pandemic played a role in Poindexter’s decision, too.

“I'm still just on the fence with the whole COVID thing, so I would just like to be safe than sorry,” Poindexter said.

Another factor in the Denton ISD parent’s decision: Her mother, who is high-risk, lives with her.

“I just rather not expose everyone because of that decision. That's just being protective of everybody,” said Poindexter, who admitted she’s still on the fence when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines.

“My thought process is, I’d rather wait and see how things unfold,” Poindexter said. 

The Denton mother, who works from home, has a plan to make sure her daughter has opportunities for social interaction. And she admitted the Virtual Academy won’t be a good fit for everyone.

“You have to do what you have to do,” Poindexter said. “Everybody doesn't have the capability to work from home so you have to do what's best for your family.”