Following a surge in interest for virtual learning, Leander ISD will add more than 2,000 kindergarten through sixth grade students to its virtual learning program, according to an Aug. 10 district announcement. Virtual learning for these students will be available for the nine-week grading period through Oct. 8.

The school year will be delayed to Aug. 19 for these students to allow for additional teachers to be hired and campus teachers to be moved to the virtual program, district spokesperson Matt Mitchell said. The over 500 waitlisted students in grades 7-12 will not be added into the program at this time, according to the district.

Parents of the about 2,025 accepted students have until Aug. 11 to confirm enrollment in the program. The form is available online.

The increased enrollment is in addition to the previous about 300-student program capacity. These students, however, will begin school Aug. 12 with in-person students.

Additionally, prekindergarten students will be taken off the waiting list. Information on the LISD Parents as Teachers program will be sent before Aug. 19, according to the announcement.

“We hear many people in our community share the real anxiety regarding this surge of COVID-19 as we prepare to open school,” Superintendent Bruce Gearing said in the announcement. “We are working diligently to put the safety of all members of our #1LISD family first while at the same time ensuring the best possible in-person experience for students who choose to return.”

The district closed its virtual program waitlist application Aug. 8. The waitlist began July 21 with 101 applicants on its first day before the program exceeded its 300-student capacity.

Leander ISD trustees approved a virtual learning program June 17 for families who have a need for their students to be in fully remote instruction. This was based on continued health concerns from the pandemic. A 300-student cap was formed based on previous communication with families.

The program is funded through federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds. The district said the original 300-student program will cost $2 million. The district will not receive per-student funding from the state for students who learn virtually, according to LISD.

Leander ISD's school board will meet Aug. 13 for a special meeting to discuss "committing fund balance regarding virtual learning revenue stabilization" and an amendment to the academic calendar for the virtual students' delayed school year.