The Killeen Independent School District will not offer a virtual learning platform for the 2021-2022 school year, Superintendent John Craft told the school board Tuesday.
In-person classes will be the only option provided by Killeen ISD for students this upcoming school year.
“From an economy of scale standpoint, I just don’t think we’re going to be able to provide the virtual learning platform without really disrupting the face-to-face environment as a modality of instruction,” Craft said during Tuesday’s workshop meeting.
During a registration drive in March, the district gauged interest in virtual learning for the 2021-2022 school year. The district received 855 requests for virtual learning out of the 18,000 students eligible to participate in the virtual platform, Craft said.
For those parents still looking for a virtual learning option, Craft suggested they look into the Texas Education Agency’s virtual platform: Texas Virtual School Network.
“As more and more districts are gathering information, I think that overwhelmingly parents and students are realizing we need to be back in classrooms with teachers,” Craft said. “I sense parents recognize the need for their students, not only for academic but social and emotional needs, to be back in the classroom.”
The agenda item will be voted on at the school board’s upcoming meeting May 25.
Hours before Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning public schools from mandating face masks, Craft told the school board he recommended the district lift its mask mandate — making masks optional and no longer a requirement.
“We’d like to make the change to the face coverings being optional,” Craft said.
With over 50% of Killeen ISD staff vaccinated against COVID-19, and students ages 12 and older able to be vaccinated, Craft said “We’re prepared to make face coverings a choice, while encouraging face coverings, which the public health guide update articulates.”
The district’s public health guide will be officially voted on at the school board’s May 25 meeting. If approved, the district would make masks optional as of June 1. Abbott’s ban on schools requiring masks starts 11:59 p.m. June 4.
“We’re just in a different place as it pertains to COVID-19 mitigation protocol,” he said.
Craft highlighted the district’s successes and thanked district employees for their hard work during the pandemic.
“All in all, I’d like to applaud our entire staff,” he said. “We went through some really unique challenges this year associated with the mitigation of COVID-19. I think if I were to look back on the year, we’ve really done so effectively.”
Those students or employees with reasons to continue wearing mask may do so, he said, emphasizing that the district doesn’t know which families may have immunocompromised individuals at home.
“We respect each employee’s, each student’s, each staff member’s own individual choices in this regard, because we don’t know each individual’s own personal circumstances,” Craft said. “I view face coverings being, more or less, a personal choice.”