Could online schools be the future of education?

The TEA says changes to the law need to be made if school districts want to open a full-time virtual school

SAN ANTONIO – Is online learning the future of education?

While it may not have worked for some families during the COVID-19 pandemic, others say it brought flexibility to their schedules and a sense of safety for their children.

In Texas, there’s already a handful of public online schools that are Texas Education Agency accredited campuses and provide a 100% virtual instructional program to students.

One of these virtual schools is the Texas Online Preparatory School.

The school is part of the Texas Virtual School Network, or TXVSN, that was established by the Texas legislature in 2007 to provide students with equitable access to quality online courses.

“Students are everywhere. From El Paso to all the way to Texarkana,” said Forrest Smith, head of school at Texas Online Preparatory School.

Smith said there’s been more interest from families across Texas amid the pandemic.

“We had about 3,000 students at the end of last school year, so we’ve grown by 2,200 students,” Smith said.

Northside ISD parent Jenny Maldonado said her kids have been learning online during the pandemic.

“We’ll probably keep them in virtual learning, at least until the numbers go way down, or we can all get vaccines,” Maldonado said.

Monica Martinez with the Texas Education Agency said if local school districts want to open a full-time virtual school, there needs to be changes to the state law.

“There’s currently a provision in state law that limits the amount of funding that a district can get for serving a student in a virtual environment. And part of the challenges, we currently fund schools based on student attendance. So when you’re talking about a virtual environment, the lack of attendance means that we have to have a proxy for that attendance,” Martinez said.

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About the Authors:

Tiffany Huertas is a reporter for KSAT 12 known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.