texas schools online coronavirus

Students across Texas are expected to learn in a virtual classroom to start the school year longer than expected as cases of COVID-19 remain on the rise.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday said schools will remain closed for more than three weeks after the start of the school year — the timeframe health officials gave last year — as the country continues to fight the health crisis. There was concern that schools could lose funding if they opted to stay closed longer, the Texas Tribune reports.

The news, which Abbott said would be finalized in the next few days, will likely come as a relief to superintendents and educators asking the state for more flexibility on when and how they reopen school buildings. Some local health officials, including in El Paso and Laredo, had already demanded that schools in their areas start the year with virtual learning until cases go down.

The decision will mean parents across Texas need to figure out how to balance their work lives while their children attempt to attend school virtually at home. Virtual learning has been on the rise during the health pandemic, with some education leaders saying their districts aren’t prepared to offer that style of learning.

One of the top challenges is ensuring each student has access to a computer and reliable internet access, according to JellyFish.tech.