RGV schools eyeing SB15— possible return of virtual learning

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HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Texas Legislature is closer to provide funding for temporary virtual learning. This as many parents are choosing to keep their kids home from school amid COVID-19 concerns.

Like other Texas school districts, San Benito CISD does not have a virtual learning option for its students. Superintendent Dr. Nate Carman explained the impact on student enrollment this school year.

“Of the 9,300 students that we have enrolled we still have over 300 no-shows as of Friday,” Dr. Carman said. “Most of those calls to parents is due to COVID and so if they had a remote option, I believe we could get those students enrolled and started with school.”

Senate Bill 15 would give funding to Texas school districts for virtual learning until September 2023. San Benito CISD says it has a plan in place if the bill passes.

“We would hope within two weeks after being signed into law that we would have our students identified and our teachers who would be providing that instruction lined out and ready to go,” Dr. Carman said.

But the bill requires that a maximum of 10% of students can be enrolled online. School districts can also move virtual students back on campus if they do not meet certain grade requirements.

State Board of Education Representative for District 2 Ruben Cortez says SB15 can still cause problems for school districts, problems that can easily be fixed by Governor Greg Abbott.

“What about those families that say we want to be included but they cannot because they exceed that 10%?” Cortez said. “They create a whole world of problems for our school leaders unnecessarily because the governor of our state can do this right now, without a Senate Bill 15.”

But local school districts like San Benito CISD are just hoping for some relief to educate students during the pandemic.

“We’re hopeful that we can continue to offer a safe environment and if for some of our students that means remote and stay at home their parents, learning online we are anxious to be able to provide that,” Dr. Carman said.

Senate Bill 15 will head to the house for a final vote before Abbott can sign it into law.

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