HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Hays Consolidated Independent School District will be offering flexible options for families who may struggle to successfully navigate at-home learning for when school begins on Sept. 8.

Called “in-person virtual learning support,” the district will open its campuses to about 15% of the student body who meet a certain standard of need.

Priority goes to special education students, families with poor internet connectivity, families without an available daily caretaker or students who participate in UIL sanctioned activities.

Students will still do virtual work on campus but will work in small pods in large areas like gyms and cafeterias.

“We just felt like we needed to support those families that didn’t have any alternatives,” said Dr. Eric Wright, Superintendent of the Hays Consolidated Independent School District.

With a delayed start beginning after Labor Day, online-only classes will run until Sept. 25, then parents will have an option to send their kids to campus or stay with online classes. The form for parents to declare their choices will be live on the Hays CISD parent self-serve site Aug. 10.

At the beginning of each nine-week grading period, parents can choose either online-only or on-campus classes. Families must stick with those choices for the entire grading period, and make those choices by October 30 for the second nine weeks, January 22 for the third and April 2 for the fourth.

The school year will end June 15.

The decision to push back the start date was two-fold: it allows Hays CISD officials to buy time to monitor the pandemic and also give teachers a chance to really learn their new online software. Dr. Wright said it was important for the district to improve upon the virtual learning from the spring, which he admits was quickly assembled in a crisis.

“We want our virtual learning process to be much more rigorous and robust than the one we rolled out in the spring,” Dr. Wright said.

Parents explained that they were happy to see their district making progress and thoughtfully unveiling their plans in a timely manner.

“I really appreciate how much thought they put into it,” said mom to two, Jodi Gonzalez. “Everyone just needs to try to get on the same page as much as they can and move forward and I hope we can do that.”