AISD limits virtual offerings to K-6 students

During+this+school+year%2C+only+K-6+students+had+virtual+offerings+for+at-home+learning.+As+a+result%2C+most+middle+and+high+school+students+attend+school+on+campus.

Alex Edwards

During this school year, only K-6 students had virtual offerings for at-home learning. As a result, most middle and high school students attend school on campus.

Lauren Bogard, Staff Writer

In June of this year, AISD stated that kindergarten to sixth grade students will be qualified for virtual offerings. Originally, AISD announced that all students would be back and learning in person, but this later changed for K-6 students. AISD acknowledged that those eligible for the vaccine don’t require virtual learning due to the ineffectiveness and limited resources.

Students, especially Pre-K, experienced development issues during virtual learning compared to in person. According to the Virtual Learning FAQs for AISD, limited interactions and technology were the main contributors to this struggle, as such it was decided that only those with health risks, and susceptibility to the virus, would be permitted to proceed with online learning.

“There are no virtual options for high school. The virtual options the district is providing are for ages 12 and down, not up,” Academic Director Kaylin Brett said. “Since young children are not eligible for the vaccine yet, the district is allowing Kindergarten through six grade virtual options.”

Currently there’s another option for students who are at risk of in person learning. Homebound, a program for students with high risk and special needs allows students to attend school from home while still being counted present. This has been in effect before COVID and is most often offered to those confined at home or the hospital. However, the Homebound Instruction Overview for AISD requires a doctor to write up why a student would need to be confined for a month or more, but it is not the determining factor. 

“High schools can qualify, it just has to be a special education thing,” Counselor Hunter Ruffin said. “Through special education, you might qualify [via] application process.”

At Bowie high school, because of the eligibility for the vaccine, no virtual offerings are conducted. However, there are a few semi-virtual courses and programs offered. One such program involves teaming up with Garza High School Online, a school that provides opportunities to obtain credits that is often seen with students trying to graduate early. Anyone in grades 9-12 attending AISD are capable of enrolling in the program with a written permission from their counselor/administrator.

“Garza does have some online options. Bowie students still have to be in at least 6 classes at Bowie to also take an online class at Garza,” Brett said. “Typically a student will do one or two online classes through Garza online while simultaneously going through courses at Bowie.” 

A more known Garza addition at Bowie, is Health in the summer. This was primarily done for students that wanted to get rid of the required health credit in a quicker and easier way. According to the Course List in the Garza High School Website, there’s more than just health. They’ve got all four science courses, the four English classes, they’ve got math, all the way up to Algebra Two, and they have all the social studies except World Geography. There’s also computer science, creative writing, and other various electives that can be taken through Garza.

“It’s not super marketed because we want people signing up for classes at Bowie, but if anytime a kid would come to our office and say ‘hey, how do I get ahead?’ or ‘how do I catch up?’ . . .  then [one] answer would be, ‘well there’s this Garza high school thing, you could try that,’” Ruffin said. “And so it’s kind of like the third option.”

The only other semi-virtual program at Bowie is called DELTA. DELTA is a course recovery program for those that failed a past semester in any subject. Once the course is completed students can supplement it with an off period.The DELTA program is entirely self paced, similar to Garza.

“DELTA is a class period throughout the day. [It] could be scheduled in any of the period[s] one through eight,” Ruffin said. “DELTA has kind of always been the number one credit recovery option for juniors and seniors.”