Hamilton County Schools Supt. Dr. Bryan Johnson on Monday said the schools plan to open Aug. 12 with two groups of students at each school each attending two days a week.
However, he said it is hoped that students will be able to go five days a week by Aug. 30.
The opening format includes Group A going on Wednesday, Aug. 12, and Group B on Thursday, Aug. 13. Friday will be a remote learning day for everyone.
For the next two weeks, Group A will go on Mondays and Tuesdays and Group B on Thursdays and Fridays.
Dr. Johnson said a contracted firm will be doing extensive cleaning of the schools on those Wednesdays and after Group B attends.
The superintendent, speaking remotely to the North Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, said he believes that students do better "with a skilled and highly-trained teacher in front of them."
He said his own nine-year-old son will be headed back to the classroom.
However, he said he understands that some 12,000 county school students - approaching one-third of students - have signed up for the remote Hamilton at Home program. Those students will be assigned to a home room, but will learn online.
There is also a virtual option that does not include a home room assignment.
Dr. Johnson said school officials plan to unveil a "Safe Pledge" detailing steps being taken to try to make schools as safe as possible from coronavirus. One part of it is a requirement for masks for school staff and teachers. It also includes masks for students - "even for K-2 students."
The superintendent said he knows there will be instances in which students at a particular school come down with coronavirus. He said in that case the special cleaning team should be able to get the school cleaned enough for students to return in as little as 24 hours.
He said personal protective equipment is being supplied to teachers and staff.
The annual Back to School Day will be Aug. 8, but this time it will be drive through.
The speaker said officials are working on setting up child care and after school care, but he said it will not be enough to cover the needs of all parents due to a lack of personnel.
Dr. Johnson said the number of active COVID cases in the county is a key factor being watched by the schools. He said it was around 950 in June. However, he said people could not resist annual July 4 get-togethers and that pushed the numbers up to the 1,400-1,500 range.
He also told the group, "I'm very worried about flu season. The symptoms of the flu are about the same as those of COVID."