With Senate Bill 15 now providing funding for students who attend class online, Hutto ISD is taking steps toward offering a virtual instruction option for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

At its Sept. 22 meeting, the Hutto ISD Board of Trustees voted to authorize HISD to provide virtual instruction through a partnership with educational company Pearson.

“We are focused on K-6 students since they are the ones who can’t be vaccinated,” said Associate Superintendent for Instruction & Innovation Robert Sormani. "We are considering how we would provide some services to some medically fragile kids we have out there in the upper grades."

The district does not yet have a starting date for the program called Hutto Virtual Academy, but Sormani said he hopes HVA will be operational by mid-October. The district is still waiting on information from the Texas Education Agency before it can fully implement the program, he said.

Enrollment in HVA will be available to students who meet certain grade level standards—in most cases a C or higher in all foundation curriculum—had fewer than 18 unexcused absences last school year and have fewer than five unexcused absences so far this school year.

Students who don't meet the criteria may be returned to in-person instruction.

District information states HVA instruction will be conducted through a combination of synchronous, or teacher guided delivery, and asynchronous, or self directed delivery. District information states students will be expected to complete four hours of asynchronous lessons per day.

Parents will be able to request a transfer to HVA through an online portal that is not yet operational. During the Sept. 22 meeting, district staff did not say when the portal would be ready.

HVA enrollment will be capped at 10% of HISD’s current enrollment, or approximately 900 students.

Sormani said he does not expect enrollment in the program to approach that limit and estimated enrollment at about 250 students.

Once transferred, students will remain in HVA until the end of the semester, when they will have the option to return to in-person instruction.