Beginning Jan. 6, remote learning will no longer be an option for Magnolia ISD students struggling academically, according to a Nov. 16 letter to families from Superintendent Todd Stephens.

According to the letter, district officials made the call to no longer offer virtual learning for certain students due to poor academic performance throughout the school year.

"Discussions and data revealed online instruction has not been successful for the majority of our virtual learners," Stephens said in the letter. "It has also become apparent the added burden of a full-scale dual instructional system on our teachers is unsustainable for the second semester. Our goal is to have all of our students be successful and experience the programs and benefits of an MISD education."

The decision comes after the Texas Education Agency released updated guidelines on remote learning in which students may be required to transfer to in-person learning should they have poor academic performance, such as failing to maintain a class average of above 70 or accumulating three or more unexcused absences within a grading period. MISD has not released academic requirements for virtual learning.

According to TEA guidelines, virtual learning will still be available to students meeting academic requirements, with medical exemptions from a doctor or those required to undergo a temporary quarantine period due to COVID-19. TEA guidelines suggest parents must be given a two-week notice should online learning no longer be an option for their student.

MISD information states junior high and high school students who are showing academic success or a medical exemption will have a mix of campus-based curriculum and Edgenuity, a third-party online program, in the spring.

However, students opting for virtual learning in the spring will no longer be able to participate in extracurricular activities. Virtual learning coursework will not be awarded weighted points and therefore not be included in the calculation of class rank, and not all specialized coursework may be available in the spring's virtual learning environment.

"It is MISD’s belief that face-to-face instruction is, and remains, the best method for a child’s learning and social-emotional growth," Stephens said. "As we continue to remain vigilant and follow our safety protocols, we still have the ability to transition to remote learning for all students should the need arise. The district looks forward to seeing the vast majority of our virtual students return to campus."

At the start of the year, MISD reported about 19% of students were enrolled in virtual learning, while the percentage dropped to 14.5%, or 1,928 students, opting for virtual learning in the second nine-week grading period this fall, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.