FRISCO, Texas — Frisco ISD announced on Tuesday, it will have a temporary online learning option for the fall, citing "rapidly changing conditions related to COVID-19," the district said.
Online learning will be an option for grades EC-6 at least through the first nine weeks of school, the district said, and will be "reevaluated and extended as necessary" until a vaccine is authorized for children under the age of 12. Once a vaccine becomes widely available for children under 12, the district said online instruction will no longer be offered.
The district said an online option will not be offered to students in grades 7-12, since the COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for those age 12 and older.
Students who enroll in the online learning option will have a two-day delay to the start of the school year and will begin online classes Monday, Aug. 16, according to the district.
The online option is a reversal from a previous announcement in June, when Frisco ISD suspended plans for a virtual learning option but said it was a priority even before the pandemic.
The districts had previously said they wanted to launch a permanent Virtual School for grades 3-12. House Bill 1468 would have provided funding for such programs.
House Bill 1468 would have funded virtual learning/academies for districts and charter schools for eligible students. The bill was authored by Rep. Keith Bell whose district covers Forney. It was passed by the House and Senate during the latest legislative session, which ended May 30. But changes were made to the bill, and it didn't receive another vote after House Democrats walked out of the chamber to kill the elections bill. HB1468 also died as a result.
"Expanded opportunities for students through online and blended learning was a priority for Frisco ISD prior to the pandemic and will continue to be a priority for the District in the future," the district said. "As many families have discovered, online learning offers students additional choice and flexibility and is preferred by some for a variety of reasons."
According to Frisco ISD, in addition to $6.1 million in federal coronavirus grant funds it received in June, it will receive an additional $13 million from the state for the upcoming school year. However, the district said it estimates it loses about $40 per student per day in funding.
The first day of school for Frisco students is Aug. 12.
In April, WFAA reported that 300 students at Denton ISD signed up for a virtual academy for kindergarten through 8th grade for the 2021-22 school year. The district is trying to request funding for virtual students.