Austin ISD released its plans for virtual learning July 30. This year, students learning online will have time to work together and independently, according to the release.

The move comes in response to Gov. Greg Abbott's Executive Order 36 that prohibits school districts from mandating masks, according to the release.

About 5% of parents in the district say they want their children taught virtually, according to an AISD survey. Those parents will apply online and can call the Parent Engagement Support Office helpline at 512-414-0726 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 2 through Aug. 5 for help navigating the application in English or Spanish.

Students whose special health problems prevent them from coming to class can learn from home or the hospital through a separate program called Homebound Services, the district announced Thursday. Students who have a completed form from a licensed physician recommending Homebound Services can use virtual learning through BLEND—the main platform the district used for remote learning last year—or have teachers visit.

Students taking the standard virtual learning route will also use BLEND. Lessons will include live, synchronous learning and some independent work. Teachers in the district will either teach in-person or virtually but not both, the release said.

The district announced July 26 that it would offer a virtual learning option despite a lack of funding from the state after House Bill 1468, which would have funded virtual learning during the 2021-22 school year, failed to pass. The turnaround followed reports of rising hospitalizations as the delta variant of COVID-19 spreads locally.