A survey gauging interest in a limited virtual option for grades K-6 in Tomball ISD closes at 5 p.m. on Sept. 1, according to a letter Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora sent to families of students in grades K-6 on Aug. 27. The letter comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in grades K-6 totals 3.32% of students enrolled, according to the district's COVID-19 dashboard.

As of 9:49 a.m. Sept. 1, students at elementary and intermediate schools in the district accounted for more than half of the district's active COVID-19 cases—352 cases of the district's 666 total active COVID-19 cases, according to the dashboard. However, case numbers fluctuate as students recover, and active cases include positive cases prior to the first day of school, which was Aug. 17.

Districtwide, active cases account for 3.35% of total enrollment and 1.77% of staff as of Sept. 1, according to the dashboard.

"While we know that the best place for children to learn and to thrive is in school in a face-to-face environment, we are being faced with a very challenging situation that requires us to look deeper into the options that we have to serve our students," Salazar-Zamora wrote in the letter. "We recognize that our K-6 students do not yet qualify for the COVID vaccine. We have worked hard to ensure our schools are safe but understand there is a growing concern for a virtual option amongst our young learners. ... Tomball ISD is strongly considering offering limited virtual instruction for grades K-6."

Legislation providing funds for virtual schooling for the 2021-22 school year did not pass the Texas Legislature in this year's regular session; therefore, virtual instruction is not funded by the state, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported. Neighboring districts, including Conroe ISD and Cy-Fair ISD have also unveiled temporary, limited virtual options for the fall.

As a virtual option would be limited due to a lack of state funding, TISD is offering families with students in grades K-6 the opportunity to weigh in on the interest and need for a limited virtual option via the survey, according to the letter. The survey is available via the TISD Home Access Center.

The letter states students are neither obligated to choose a virtual option nor guaranteed a spot if expressing interest in a virtual option via the survey. Additional information about a possible temporary virtual option will follow the survey's conclusion, according to the letter.

As the district explores the need for a limited virtual learning option, the district is hiring virtual teachers.

In-district vaccination clinics for those who choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine are also in the works with the county health department, the letter states, and district officials are strongly recommending the use of masks in the classroom as a safety measure.