Richardson ISD has extended the registration period through midnight Aug. 17 for the virtual classroom option it is offering for students too young to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The virtual learning option will be offered for students in kindergarten through sixth grade from Aug. 23-Oct. 15. More information about the virtual classroom option can be found here. A registration link is available on that page, but the primary way to register is through a direct message that was sent to parents of every enrolled elementary student, according to district staff.

Students who enroll will work with RISD virtual teachers on district curriculum both synchronously and asynchronously, according to the district website.

“We are not going to ask any of our in-person teachers to facilitate both a virtual and in-person environment,” Deputy Superintendent Tabitha Branum said during the Aug. 9 RISD board of trustees meeting. “This would be a truly virtual classroom option for these students that want to take advantage of it. Because of that, we are relying heavily on an asynchronous schedule.”

As part of a Aug. 9 video uploaded to the district's YouTube page, Superintendent Jeannie Stone said the district put together the virtual option after hearing from parents of elementary-aged children who felt there was not a safe option for educating children.

The virtual learning program is only slated to be available for the first nine weeks of the school year, but the district website states the option could be extended based on vaccine availability for children under age 12. Once a vaccine is made widely available for elementary-aged children, the district will no longer offer the virtual option, and students will transition back to their home elementary schools for in-person instruction, according the website.

RISD in-person learning is scheduled to begin Aug. 17, but the virtual learning students will not start until Aug. 23.

Parents who opt into the virtual learning option will be expected to serve as their child’s “at-home learning coach” and to play an active part in supporting their student’s learning. Parents will also be expected to monitor their student's daily schedules for required online meetings and the completion of assignments by their due date.

"A key part of this virtual option is the need for a parent or guardian to commit to actively keep their child on task as a home learning coach," Stone said in the video. "We are in this together with you."

RISD’s announcement came the same day as Plano ISD announcing a virtual option and on the heels of a similar move by Frisco ISD, which announced a temporary virtual option Aug. 3.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the new deadline to register for Richardson ISD's virtual classroom option.