As the coronavirus pandemic continues into its second year, local school districts are working to plan for how the next school year will look.

Following a unanimous approval from the school board April 19, Williamson County Schools will begin work to launch two online schools for the 2021-22 school year for students who wish to continue online learning: one for grades K-8 and one for grades 9-12.

Superintendent Jason Golden said approximately 900 students so far have opted to continue online learning for the next school year, down from the roughly 5,000 students who enrolled in WCS Online for the spring 2020-21 semester.

"It’s a lot less—I’m actually encouraged by that," Golden said. "I think families are focusing on what’s going to be best for their students instructionally."

The move will establish two separate schools for online learning, meaning students will not be enrolled in the campuses to which they are geographically zoned. However, the district will still allow hybrid options, where students can combine in-person and online classes.

The district will submit the proposal to the state board of education for approval, after which the district will be able to assign school numbers to each campus and begin enrollment.

"Logistically it’s pretty simple; for enrollment purposes and for scheduling purposes, it’s actually simpler for us than maintaining the students on the other path assigned to their individual school," Golden said.

Golden said the district intends to evaluate in the future if there is enough demand to continue the online schools beyond the 2021-22 school year.

“For this, I anticipate that we may very well have a viable online school at these grade levels into the future, but it’s going to be driven by student choice and the academic instructional need of our students,” Golden said. “I want it to be an option, if we can have enough students for it to make [sense].”