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Waco: Midway ISD scraps virtual learning plans after bill fails in Austin

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 12:07 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Virtual learning certainly came with its challenges this year, but a local school district had planned to make it an option again next year. Now, that’s not going to happen.

Midway ISD said it can’t offer virtual learning this year because a bill that would have authorized virtual learning around the state did not pass.

House Bill 1468 was one of several bills that died when democrats broke quorum at the end of the legislative session.

Becky Odajima, director of innovation and learning for the district, said virtual learning was not the best option for the vast majority of students. However, there were some students who thrived with virtual learning, and the district wanted to keep it as an option moving forward.

“We felt like we could provide a virtual school that was viable that offered Midway curriculum in a slightly different venue than we did before, and we felt like we learned a lot,” Odajima said.

While Odajima said the district is disappointed about not being able to offer virtual learning, she said it is something Midway would consider in the future, if possible.

“I do think it’s our next step in education, it’s what we move toward, maybe even personalization of education,” Odajima said. “And it’s an option that we’re absolutely open to should the opportunity present itself again.”

It is possible that the legislature could take up the bill in a special session, but Odajima said it would be too late for them to offer virtual learning next year.

For now, Odajima said the district is focusing on next year and preparing to bring all students back into the classroom. Odajima said they will be communicating with families that had interest in virtual school and discussing available options.

Additionally, the cleaning procedures will continue next year, and Odajima said they will offer any support students need to transition back into the classroom.

The district says it’s not possible to offer virtual school even if the funding came from another source because students must attend in person to be counted as present for attendance purposes. Without the bill, the district said it could be penalized for attendance issues and parents and students would run into issues with truancy laws.

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