SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — After many meetings and deliberations, the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a plan for the 2020/21 school year.

The plan includes several phases starting with 100% distance learning. Then the schools will transition to a hybrid model with the ultimate goal of returning to standard schooling.

Every six weeks, the district will review the state of the virus and how the schools have been faring. They will then decide if they should stay in the current phase, move forward or even move backwards.

For students and parents who don’t feel comfortable going back to school, the district is opening a brand new school that will be completely online. Superintendent Dr. Todd Cutler said that for those who opt-in to that school, that the student will remain there for the whole year.

While the board ultimately decided to start the year with distance learning, the state of the virus made that a difficult decision. Boardmember Bonnie Turnbull said she’s been going back and forth on her decision.

In June, when cases were low in South Lake Tahoe, it seemed like the district could start safely in a hybrid model. With cases spiking in July, distance learning seemed the obvious choice.

However, new cases this week have remained relatively low but there is no telling what the case numbers could do in a month, or even a week.

When approving the school plan on Thursday, the board voted to make one change. The language in the plan originally recommended that students and staff stay home if they have symptoms or have come in contact with someone who tested positive.

The board wanted stronger language saying that students and teachers must stay home.

The board agreed that the plan is a foundation but it is a living document that will be updated and changed as the school year starts.