News Brief: District announces virtual academy for K-6th grades


Caleb Audia

The district announced that a virtual learning option will be available for students in grades kindergarten-sixth, starting Oct. 13. The online platform will be called “PISD Virtual Academy” and is a temporary learning solution to rising COVID-19 cases. “We are grateful for our community’s continued support as we work together to overcome the ongoing COVID challenges,” the district said in an email sent to parents.

Caleb Audia, Assistant News Editor & Multimedia Director

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After COVID-19 numbers and concerns began to increase and the state passed legislation to fund specific virtual learning options, the district announced that the PISD Virtual Academy will soon be available. Starting Oct. 13, the academy will enroll qualifying children in grades kindergarten-sixth. The information came in an email sent to parents and staff members on Friday, Sept. 10.

“The district is working diligently to determine the most effective pathway for offering a virtual option for our kindergarten-sixth students,” the district said in the email. “To best prepare, we will be asking for a commitment from families interested in moving to virtual learning beginning Oct. 13.”

The virtual learning option became available as COVID-19 concerns and rates in the area grew, and the Texas legislature approved funding for specific virtual learning situations.

The bill states that students outside the in-person classroom must have “passed their STAAR exams, earned a C grade or higher in foundation curriculum courses and have no more than 10% unexcused absences the previous year.”

The ineligibility for students under 12 years old to get vaccinated against the virus pushed school officials and legislators to seek virtual options for concerned parents and students. Pfizer recently informed a CNN spokesperson that the vaccination trials in children ages 2 through 5 will project enough research that’s expected in October or November to determine the next actions taken.

We are planning on having the virtual academy for the year. The decision was made because there was a need, and students up to age 12 have not been able to receive a vaccine.

— Dr. Holly Ferguson

The PISD Virtual Academy will be recognized as its own campus, with children zoned for previously attended elementary schools being transferred to the academy’s roll. The academy requires an application process, and not all children who submit applications will be accepted to attend.

The district continues to state that the virtual academy is temporary.

“In the meantime, we will continue offering outstanding in-person learning for our students,” the district said in the email. “We are grateful for our community’s continued support as we work together to overcome the ongoing COVID challenges.”

Updated on Friday, Sept. 7 to include Dr. Holly Ferguson’s comments on the PISD Virtual Academy.


The featured image is a digitally constructed image by Caleb Audia with copyright-free photos, courtesy of

Eagle Brief: Sept. 13-17