Douglas County students will have three instructional options for learning — including traditional learning, digital learning and a hybrid model — when they return to school in the fall.

Superintendent Trent North outlined the plan in a letter to parents Tuesday. School will start Aug. 10, five days later than the original Aug. 5 start date, to allow teachers and administrators extra time to prepare social distancing and the new instructional options.

The plan laid out Tuesday is slightly different than the draft plan the Board of Education discussed last month, which had students returning Aug. 5 and had just two options instead of the three that the school system is moving forward with.

Students who choose the Traditional Learning plan who are already enrolled do not need to register again and should plan to attend their regular school Aug. 10. Students who choose the School-Based Digital Learning model, also called the Hybrid Model, and those who choose the all-digital FLEX Academy will be required to register for those programs by July 10.

Traditional Learning, Option 1, includes in-person school five days a week with social distancing protocols in place, North said. The traditional learning model would move to digital learning if COVID-19 becomes substantial in the community or in a school building or classroom, North said. Students who choose Traditional Learning will be encouraged to have a face covering and to wear it all times while riding the bus to and from school.

Option 2 is what the school system is calling School-Based Digital Learning, or the Hybrid Model. North said this option is ideal for students and parents who want to stay connected with their school but prefer the flexibility of digital learning. Students will receive digital instruction from a teacher at the school where they are enrolled. North said individual schools will design their own School-Based Digital Learning options, and hence, details about the program may vary from school to school.

Students enrolled in School-Based Digital Learning will have the option of learning online from home for the first nine weeks. The program will be evaluated at the end of each nine-week period and modified as needed, North said. After the first nine weeks, he said digital learning may be combined with in-person instruction. Students in the School-Based Digital Learning may not participate in extracurricular or athletic activities. And North said the School-Based Digital Learning option will be phased out when public health agencies determine that COVID-19 is no longer a major concern.

Option 3, the online learning option for grades K-12 for families who want their children to learn at home is called the FLEX Academy. North said the FLEX Academy will operate as a standalone program with its own dedicated staff of teachers who will support student learning.

FLEX Academy teachers will actively monitor students as they work through virtual online content at their own pace. Success in the FLEX Academy will require hands-on parental involvement for children in grades K-5. For students in grades 6-12, parents will need to monitor progress. Students who are “highly motivated” are good candidates for the FLEX Academy, North said.

The FLEX Academy will offer flexibility, including optional in-person interaction for students who desire small group tutoring and other services beginning in the second semester of the school year. North said the FLEX Academy will be a permanent program that will expand and continue beyond the COVID-19 crisis. North said students who choose the FLEX Academy option will be required to stay in the program for the entire 2020-21 school year and he noted enrollment will be limited.

Visit the school system’s Reopening page at https://dcssga.org/school_reopening for more on the different plans and information on how to enroll in the hybrid and FLEX Academy options.