Kathaleen De Hoyos may not have been able to look forward to graduating high school in June without San Antonio Independent School District’s new virtual night school.

A transcript error led the Travis Early College High School senior to enroll in SAISD’s Evening FLEX High School so she could fulfill a missing class credit required to graduate. But the virtual classes held over the Zoom videoconference platform two nights a week also are available to high-achieving students who want to get ahead and graduate in three years instead of four, said FLEX High School Principal Paul Riser.

“The overall response of the students seems to be very positive,” he said. “They’re glad to get the credits out of the way, and most often we hear that they’re glad to have the credits out of the way because it opened space in their schedule in the next school year so that they have more room for electives.”

SAISD launched Evening FLEX High School in late January for 51 students who wanted to graduate early or fit more courses into their schedules. Each class meets on Zoom from 5 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for eight weeks, and students can take one class worth half a credit at a time. The next eight-week session begins Tuesday with 55 students.

Currently, students can take classes in English III and IV, algebra II, geometry, math models, economics, government, world geography, world history, integrated physics and chemistry, and art appreciation. SAISD teachers conduct the courses, which average four students per class.

De Hoyos took economics and found the class engaging and informative, despite its brevity. She liked how “uplifting and motivating” the teacher was, and the material kept her focused. Each class lasted long enough for a lecture and corresponding coursework or a video followed by a quiz. SAISD designed the night school program so it would not interfere with students’ daytime schedules but run simultaneously with them.

If De Hoyos had the opportunity to take more FLEX classes, she would have started a long time ago, she said. The Dell Scholar enjoys self-guided work that allows her to work at her own pace and thinks students like her would excel in the night school because it demands more discipline.

“This opportunity should be highlighted,” De Hoyos said. “If I knew about this when I was in sophomore year, I would have definitely signed up for it and taken as many courses as I can.”

Riser said the program will be available again in the fall after the second session ends May 27, and if it is successful, SAISD could expand the program to potentially allow students from other districts and charter and private schools in Bexar County. But the night school is still in the early planning stages.

SAISD will continue to offer the classes virtually until it is safe to move to in-person class, Riser said. The FLEX school likely will offer four sessions next school year, two in the fall and two in the spring. Students can enroll through their home campuses by talking with their counselors.

Brooke Crum covered education for the San Antonio Report.