The COVID-19 pandemic is not over.
Many students, teachers, and parents thought returning to school this year would be a return to normalcy. But with the Delta variant spreading at record rates, especially among the unvaccinated, many are looking for safer options for schooling this fall.
Luckily, there are options in Texas.
The Texas Education Agency has a list called the Texas Virtual School Network, which includes seven fully virtual schools that are accredited by the TEA and open for enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year.
All these options are fully accredited by the TEA and required to participate in state testing like the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, STAAR exams, and End of Course Assessments (EOCs), whenever applicable.
The Texas Online Preparatory School was established in 2013 and serves grades 3 through 12.
"Texas Online Preparatory School (TOPS) makes it easy for you to be an active participant in your child's education.," says a letter to parents from head of school, Charles Smith. "You receive a complete curriculum, lesson planning programs, books and instructional materials, and access to all lessons and plans, at no cost to you—in short, everything your child needs for an excellent education."
Prior to enrollment, students will have the following expectations for eligibility:
- Received passing scores in all core courses the prior year. Core courses are defined as math, history, English, and science.
- Passed all attempted STAAR tests for the prior year. If no STAAR test result is available, the student’s overall academic record will be reviewed.
- Satisfactory behavior—No mandatory placement in DAEP or JJAEP and no arrests or incarcerations in previous or current school.
- Never been expelled from school.
The school is part of the Huntsville Independent School District and had a total of 3,068 elementary, middle, and high school students as of October 2019.Find more information on enrollment and begin the process here.
Part of the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District, iUniversity Prep was established in 2013.
"iUniversity Prep is an online public school that offers rigorous academics, innovative instructors and a collaborative community that offers resources and support to students to create a well-round rounded academic experience," says the school's website.
The school serves grades 5 through 12. Grades 6, 9, 10, and 11 are fully open for enrollment, and grades 5, 7, 8, and 12 are at capacity with a waitlist.
The school's website says it received a state’s accountability rating of “A” and earned the English Language Arts/Reading, Science, Social Studies, Comparative Academic Growth, and Postsecondary Readiness distinction designations.
Any Texas resident may apply here.
The Texas Virtual Academy at Hallsville was established in 2014 and serves grades 3 through 12.
"Texas Virtual Academy at Hallsville (TVAH), a tuition-free online program of Hallsville Independent School District, is a full-time online public school for students in grades 3–12," says the school website. "We're dedicated to inspiring and empowering students through an education experience tailored to each child's needs."
Part of the Hallsville Independent School District, the school had 6,500 students as of October 2019.
Texas Connections Academy, established in 2008, was recently ranked 28th in the nation in Niche's 2021 Best Online High Schools in America.
"Texas Connections Academy Houston is an online public school done at home. We are a hundred percent virtual, and we serve students all over the state of Texas... in grades 3-12," said school leader & Director of Operations, Dr. Brita Lindsey.
Dr. Lindsey says the school provides quality learning for students.
"There are accredited teachers available during the instructional day."
The school has been providing students with online learning for the past 12 years, before the global pandemic forced many students into virtual learning.
While the school is free to attend, students do have to use their own computers and buy their own books.
"Because we are a Texas virtual school - a public school, it is required that our students have prior public enrollment," said Lindsey. "Families can enroll with us now, and the deadline for families to start the enrollment process is October 15 - that's for grades 3 through 8. The deadline for high school to start the enrollment process is October 8th."
To enroll and see a complete list of events at Texas Connections Academy, click here.
The school is part of the Houston Independent School District.
Premier High School is unique on this list because it caters to only high school students, grades 9 through 12.
"We understand that students need to be prepared for their tech-forward future," says the school's website. "That’s why our Texas-certified teachers and staff are committed to providing the virtual support needed for parents and students."
Established in 2015, the school requires students who apply to be enrolled in a public school in Texas in the preceding school year or if the student has been placed in substitute care in Texas.
Students and parents may begin the application process here.
Part of the Texarkana Independent School District, eSchool Prep was established in 2011, closed in 2015, and re-opened in 2019.
The school serves grades 5 through 12.
"Our curriculum is geared toward a full spectrum of students who want to be academically challenged and prepared for higher learning," says the school's website. "Our learning activities and mapped pathways are geared toward college preparation, so students are ready for their next educational challenge upon graduation."
The online application for the 2021 - 2022 school year is available here.
Established in 2008, the iSchool Virtual Academy of Texas serves only high school students grades 9 through 12.
"Our unique online program is built for flexibility," says the school's website. "Our teachers and curriculum deliver a customized experience to help each student reach their individual goals."
Interested applicants can start the enrollment process here.