ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage School District announced a plan to begin holding in-person classes two days per week when schools reopen in the fall.

The district announced Thursday that in-person classes are expected to resume a five-day schedule after two and a half weeks of reopening, The Anchorage Daily News reported.

District officials scheduled Aug. 20 as the first day of classes since schools closed in March at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Schools likely will switch to a medium- to low-risk level in September, with students in school five days per week but for 5 1/2 hours per day rather than the previous school day of 6 1/2 hours, the district plan said.

Deputy superintendent Mark Stock said during a briefing Thursday that the shortened schedule calls for students at each school to be separated into two groups, or cohorts, attending on opposite days of the week.

The district will also offer a virtual school program in which parents concerned about exposure to the coronavirus can register children with neighborhood schools and participate in online classes with support from teachers.

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“Our goal was to develop a plan that can mitigate those risks and provide parents options,” Stock said. “We recognize that every plan isn’t perfect for every family.”

Students, teachers, staff and families experience different risks from the virus, district Superintendent Deena Bishop said Thursday.

The plan focuses on “rigorous health and safety protocols,” Bishop said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.