Update: STISD will open seats in the 7th and 8th grades for the STISD Virtual Academy for 2021-2022, so the campus will serve grades 6-9 during the initial year. Enrollment is open within the STISD SchoolMint application here.
South Texas Independent School District (STISD) is excited to announce the launch of its seventh campus, a stand-alone virtual school opening in the fall of 2021, following approval from the STISD board of directors during the June 28 board meeting.
Like the six existing STISD schools, South Texas ISD Virtual Academy will serve students from Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy Counties. It will eventually serve students in grades 6-12; however, it will open in the fall with only grades 6 and 9 and will phase in additional grades as these cohorts progress through the school years and new ones enroll. This will be the district’s first time serving 6th-graders, as historically, the district has served grades 7-12.
STISD was one of only 50 districts in the state approved for TEA’s Virtual and Hybrid School Accelerator (VHSA) Program earlier this spring, through which STISD would have received customized technical assistance to design, implement, and continuously improve its virtual school model. The legislature ended without passing the bill tied to continued funding for virtual learning in the upcoming school year, whereby ending the program. However, the district remained committed to moving forward with the school and made alternate plans to design and launch a successful program.
Enrollment for the STISD Virtual Academy will open at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 1, through the district’s SchoolMint enrollment system (https://stisd.schoolmint.net/welcome). As is the process for all other campuses, STISD will enroll students on a first-come, first-served basis.
The district’s other six campuses will return to 100 percent in-person learning for the upcoming school year, which will enable students a richer opportunity to experience hands-on learning and the training in different vocational programs for which the district is known. The district continues its planning and preparations for the fall to provide the safest environment for the district community.
In the initial years, the Virtual Academy will offer students the opportunity to take their core courses and several electives, with the opportunity to participate in Dual Credit courses in the future. Instruction and programs will be designed specifically for a virtual setting, with teachers bringing with them to the school expertise in this area. Teachers will teach from a centralized location, while students will participate in their courses 100 percent virtually from home.
Marco Antonio Lara, Jr., Ed.D., STISD superintendent of schools, expressed the district’s enthusiasm about the initiative and dedication to rolling it out the right way, “We are starting this initiative small and phasing it in to allow for us to deliver the best product we can to our community. Virtual learning is not for all students, and we look forward to getting back to on-campus learning at our other schools this year. However, we know some students thrive through a virtual method of instruction, and we believe it is important to continue to offer this option in future years, but to do so with programs molded specifically for a virtual platform.”