LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — In three days, the virtual school bells will ring for Leander Independent School District students with the first three weeks of learning fully online.

The semester starts August 13. Nearly half of Leander ISD’s families have chosen to send their children back for in-person schooling after Labor Day.

Roughly 43,000 Leander district parents voted on the chosen instruction form, distributed by the district, which opened July 24 and ran until August 6. Elementary was the only level offered for hybrid learning.

Here is the breakdown:

  • Elementary: 39% in person, 48% virtual, 12% hybrid (due to decimals that were not provided, the total does not add up to 100%)
  • Middle: 47% in-person, 53% virtual
  • High school: 51% in person, 49% virtual​

Corey Ryan, a Leander ISD spokesperson, says local health officials recommended districts take on a phased-in approach, starting with a 25% in-person classroom capacity.

“We’re still having conversations about what that could look like…in terms of what would 25% look like, because that is less than the amount of parents who have chosen to be in person,” Ryan said.

 The Texas Education Agency has given school districts the option to extend their three-week fully online model to eight weeks, if necessary. Leander district officials say they will likely be taking on the phased-in approach, rather than extending another week. This would likely require filtering the needs of children who would rely on in-person schooling the most.

“We are trying to be equitable. Equity for us is matching the need with services as best we can,” Ryan said. “Those conversations have included prioritizing our younger pre Kindergarten and Kindergarten learners, prioritizing our special needs students, our students in federal programs for care, such as our homeless program and children of teachers.”

As far as what classroom capacity would look like, Ryan is only able to give a hypothetical for now. Something to note, however, teachers will simultaneously teach both online and in-person.

“If a teacher would generally have 30 students in a class, then the goal is to assign those students 15 virtually and 15 in-person.”

Leander ISD plans to discuss what will happen after the three weeks online school during its August 20 board meeting.