COVID-19 has forced Texas to adopt virtual education, but previously set limitations put the state at a disadvantage. The Legislature should lift restrictive policies preventing districts from creating high-quality virtual options for students who want them.

Key points:

  • From 2013 until spring of 2020, only 8 districts out of Texas’s approximately 1,200 were allowed to operate a full-time virtual program of study should they choose to.
  • Having a system in place to support a smooth transition to and from a virtual setting could improve a district’s instructional continuity—or the entire state’s—in times of disaster.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has increased parents’, districts’, and teachers’ interest in taking advantage of virtual education.
  • Current regulations limit the availability and flexibility of virtual programs in Texas. Making changes in these areas would help expand both school district and student agency.
  • The state of Florida has one of the most robust virtual education networks in the country. Beginning in the 1990s, it has gradually incorporated virtual elements into its educational system.