Under a new plan that goes live next month, high school students in the Janesville School District who plan to learn in the classroom will attend school in person every other day.

After a few weeks with the doors closed at two Janesville schools because of COVID-19 infection, the Janesville School District has announced it plans to split attendance at its high schools with an alternating schedule, Craig High School Principal Alison Bjoin and Parker High School Principal Chris Laue wrote in an email to parents on Friday afternoon.

Starting Oct. 7, both high schools will move to an “alternating A/B schedule” that will split students in two groups—cohort A and cohort B—that will attend school every other day. On off days, one group would tackle “independent assignments” and “homework completion” at home while the other group attends school, according to the note.

It’s a model the principals said the high schools are adopting after recommendations from the Rock County Health Department on how the district could improve school social distancing measures to limit spread of the coronavirus.

Milton High School has used the alternating schedule and cohort grouping method since classes resumed this fall. That school has reported COVID cases and isolation of people from the school, but the school has so far remained open.

According to recently released district data, hundreds of Janesville School District students have had “low risk” contact in classrooms with students or staff that have been quarantined with COVID or possible COVID infection, and more than 188 students in the high school alone have been quarantined.

Craig High School was shut down and limited to virtual learning earlier this month because of COVID-19 infections. Under the new model, Craig students will continue virtual learning next week but those who learn in person would return to an alternating schedule the following week.

The following week, both schools will resume in-class learning.

Monday, Oct. 5, and Tuesday, Oct. 6, will be off days for students at both schools while staff work to finalize plans and their approach to the new, alternating schedule.

It’s not clear how many Craig students would return to school after the school’s temporary closure earlier this month for COVID infections, and it’s not clear what approach to in-class learning the district might take if Craig would have to close again or if Parker closed for a period.

Bjoin and Laue did not say how the district would go about splitting students into cohorts. It’s also not clear if the district is looking at similar measures at the lower-level schools.

The district office’s phone line immediately went to a voice message on Friday afternoon, which was when the high schools announced the change to parents.

Both principals wrote in the email that they realize the change could cause “disruption” to students, staff and families, but they said the decision “is being made to protect the health and safety of all and increase the ability of our schools to remain open.”