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With no virtual learning options, some North Texas families trying to enroll kids in Austin ISD

"A lot of parents are just stuck," said Anne Miller, who has to decide whether to send her 5-year-old daughter to school, as COVID cases rise.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Anne Miller, of Arlington, has been keeping a close eye on the latest COVID positive case numbers for a while now. She says what she's seen in the raw data and what close friends in the medical field have told her, paint a very grim picture. 

The third-year nursing student has been wrestling with the question whether to send her 5-year-old daughter to school amidst all this.

"We went back to school shopping already, got her new school clothes, and registered her. Everybody was getting vaccinated and it was very hopeful," Miller said. 

The Arlington mother felt confident sending her daughter in April, when the numbers were down. That all changed as the delta variant spread and continues to spread through North Texas.

RELATED: 'They're going into a battleground': Parents in tough spot as school year approaches, kid COVID case numbers grow

Just two weeks ago, Miller decided the risk was too high to send her daughter to kindergarten at a public school. She has been making plans for home-schooling but admits it is entirely new territory. She understands her decision to keep her child home will be met with critics.

"I feel for my daughter that this is the right decision. Honestly, your feeling doesn't affect me, and I'm OK with you believing I'm paranoid," she said to those critics. 

She has just recently explored an option that would may allow her daughter to attend virtual school at a district 200 miles away. Austin ISD is offering virtual learning for kindergarten through 6th grade. The district has opened up applications for students outside the district. 

"We are listening to parent's demands. We know they're concerned and we hope this is one way to ease those concerns," said Eduardo Villa of Austin ISD.

RELATED: Frisco ISD announces virtual learning option for fall

Villa said students in Austin ISD will get first priority for virtual learning. Villa said the state is not offering any funding to help the district and that it will come out of the district's reserves. 

Villa told WFAA it will cost Austin ISD $4,500 for every virtual student for that first semester.

Miller has applied for her daughter and would be "exhilarated" if her daughter got the opportunity to learn virtually. 

The district said less than one 1% of Austin ISD students have elected to do the virtual option so far. The district said it is unsure how many students outside the district will be chosen. 

"They'll be put on a waiting list and depending on the demand we're analyzing those numbers currently," said Villa.

Miller said she is really disappointed with state lawmakers for their inaction as it relates to the virus.

RELATED: New order strips local officials' ability to set capacity limits amid high hospitalizations, stresses 'personal responsibility'

"It's almost like an injustice to Texas, and especially kids that deserve most of our protection.  

The application period ends Thursday at midnight. Families, like the Millers, should know by next week Wednesday, Aug. 11, if they've been chosen. Students within Austin ISD should know by Monday, Aug. 9.

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