Texas school districts can demand in-person learning if students struggle online

The state of Texas is now giving school districts the right to require students to switch to “in-person” learning if they're not doing well virtually. The new guidelines were recently put into place.

Just Thursday, the Texas Education Agency updated its guidance and now allows districts to take away a student's option to learn virtually if the child is struggling with academics or attendance.


That isn't the case for Freshman Shannon Williams but she is ready to ditch virtual schooling. “I attend a really good school and I'm in the vocal department. So I was really excited to get to go to school,” the 14-year-old explains.

The talented little songbird has been dreaming of getting into HISD's Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts for years. "This was something she had on her heart since sixth grade,” explains Shannon's father, Andrew Williams.

Now that Shannon is accepted into the highly coveted HSPVA she's spending her Freshman year at home, virtual schooling in the pandemic instead of being in the building. "I really want to go back to school. Oh. I'm so excited. I want to meet new people,” Shannon says.
"I know it's disappointing. This is her first year going into high school so there's a little tension there. She wants to go back but we want to play it safe,” explains her dad. 

“You're at home. You're by yourself and sometimes it's harder to stay on task because you get distracted easily. It's no fun,” explains the 14-year-old.

Many students who normally do well in school are struggling virtually. So new guidelines from the Texas Education Education come as a surprise to some.

The TEA is now allowing districts to require students to go back into the building for in-person learning if they're performing poorly virtually.

According to the state, that includes any student who has a class average of 70 or below or has three or more unexcused absences.
That isn't the case for Shannon. The Williams family will continue to keep an eye on COVID cases.

Most districts are allowing parents to opt-in to face to face learning every 6 weeks. "I have faith things will change. I believe as we continue to follow the protocol I believe things will turn around. So January we'll consider it,” says Mr. Williams. 

HISD's deadline to opt in to in-person learning for the next grading cycle is Friday. Otherwise, you too will have to wait until January.

HISD by the way says the district "is aware of the new guidance from the TEA and is in the process of evaluating it".

No word yet on how many districts plan to implement those new state guidelines.