Gilmer ISD is the latest and largest Longview-area school district to end remote learning.

The district’s last day of off-campus instruction will be Oct. 13, according to a letter sent to parents.

Texas school districts can choose to offer remote learning options to students who wish to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Diana ISD made the same decision Sept. 28. Hawkins ISD also sent an email Tuesday saying it no longer will offer remote learning and that all students except those who are told to quarantine by the health department must return to campus Oct. 16.

All students at Gilmer ISD must return to campus by Oct. 19. Superintendent Rick Albritton said the reason for that date is because students are out of school Oct. 14 through 16 for what would usually be the East Texas Yamboree. He also said the 13th is the end of a grading period, so it was a good time to transition.

Albritton said only about 9% of Gilmer ISD students are enrolled in remote learning, and they have not been successful.

“After examining the data, we have confirmed that daily engagement and attendance have been unacceptable during the first grading period,” he said in the letter. “Approximately 65% of remote learners failed one or more courses during the first grading period. Daily engagement and attendance vary from 60%-%75% depending on the campus, which has significantly impacted passage rates.”

It is difficult for many people in Upshur County to access the internet, Albritton said, and even students with school computers and WiFi hotspot devices sometimes cannot access it.

“We just feel like this is the best decision for the greatest percentage of our students,” he said. “Very few students are being successful.”

Albritton said the district considered an “in-between” option, in which the district could make failing students return to campus. He said the district’s legal team said that is not an option and that restrictions could not be placed on remote learning.

He said a student with a medical condition that puts him or her at-risk, such as asthma, can present a doctor’s note to the district and be considered for homebound options, which is not the same as remote learning but is still a district service.

The letter sent to parents gave other online options to students, which included the Texas Virtual Academy at Hallsville, K-12 online — a free virtual public school in Texas — the Texas Virtual School Network and TTU K-12, which is Texas Tech University’s online school.

Kristen is the News-Journal's education reporter. A Longview native, she got a journalism degree and a graduate certificate at Texas Tech University. She covers a variety of issues, including school finance, board meetings and happenings at local schools.