Katy ISD board discusses future of virtual high school
Some Katy ISD parents who expressed interest in a virtual high school option for the 2021-22 school year said they would prefer the online learning environment for their students because of health and safety concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
At an April 26 meeting, the KISD board of trustees heard the results of a survey that asked parents for feedback about a virtual high school option for the coming year. The survey, which was conducted by outside research firm K12 Insights, was emailed to all eighth- through 11th-grade parents and was conducted from March 31-April 14.
The results of the survey were presented by KISD Chief Communications Officer Andrea Grooms.
A total of 37,469 emails were sent, and 6,878 responses were received, Grooms said. Of those, 5,640 parents responded "no," indicating they are not interested in the district offering a virtual high school option next year, and 1,238 responded "yes."
Some parents who expressed interest in a virtual high school option explained in the survey that they would prefer the online learning environment for their students because of health and safety concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic, because their students learned better online with minimal distractions or because their students felt less stress or social anxiety learning online.
Some parents also listed their concerns about a virtual high school option, which included concerns about students facing reduced access to the same course opportunities, limited access to extracurricular activities, and the potential for students to cheat on assignments and exams.
Superintendent Ken Gregorski said at the meeting that there are currently several unknowns regarding virtual high school options at the state level, because several legislative bills about virtual instruction were filed, but it is unclear if any will make it to the finish line. Additionally, there are still questions regarding how a virtual program would be funded, he said.
Still, Gregorski said he thinks there are advantages to offering a virtual high school and said staff would continue to watch for guidance from the state to help the district best navigate how to move forward.
"I think there's more advantages than disadvantages offering one additional option within Katy ISD to meet the needs of our students who want something different," he said.
The board members planned to continue discussing the option in the weeks and months ahead as staff watch for any guidance from the state.