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FAQs | Your questions and our answers about Ignite Online Academy and making plans for returning to classrooms


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We have been working hard to have plans in place to protect our students and staff for in-person instruction in Durham Public Schools when the time comes. We will be presenting an overview of those safety procedures and standards at our school board’s work session on Thursday, Oct. 8. at 5 p.m.

One of the reasons we are asking families to register now for online learning for the remainder of the school year is that the number of families choosing online instruction will greatly affect what in-person learning will look like. We know many of you would prefer more clarity about in-person instruction before making this decision, but at this time we have the most clarity about what online instruction will be like:

  • It will be very similar to what it’s like now.
  • It will be provided through DPS’s Ignite Online Academy.
  • Students will remain part of their assigned school communities, with the option of participating in athletics and other extracurricular activities when and if they are provided.
  • To the greatest extent possible, teachers and students from the same school will be together in Ignite Online Academy. DPS teachers will teach either in-person or online, to better serve students in both environments. Therefore some students will be assigned a new teacher if they choose to attend IGNITE Online Academy.

To apply for Ignite Online Academy, please complete the Ignite Online Academy Intent Form. The form is available in English and SpanishThe deadline is Friday, Oct. 9.

Here are some of the other questions we’ve received.

About Ignite Online Academy

Will this be the only chance to sign up for Ignite for this school year?

Yes; however, if there are extenuating circumstances and/or significant changes families can work with our Office of Student Assignment.

If a family signs up for Ignite this week, is that a binding decision? Or could they sign up now and then change their mind later if they decide they want their child to go to in-person learning?

This decision allows us to plan for staffing and transportation; we would like families to commit for the remainder of the year.  This will allow DPS to provide quality instruction to both students online and in-person. If a family does not sign up for Ignite, can they change their mind and sign up at a later date? No, but if there are extenuating circumstances families can work with the Office of Student Assignment.

What are the odds our kids will be placed with teachers from their school?

This depends entirely on the enrollment and need for accommodations for teachers from your school.

Will kids be placed with peers from their school or will there be a mix of kids from all different schools?

Kids will largely be placed with peers from their school, with the occasional class that would include peers from a close by school that is paired with yours. We will not “scramble” the kids across the district, but instead deploy a regional or program-like micro-school environment.

Will they be placed with a teacher for their grade level or a just a licensed K-8 teacher?

A teacher from their grade level.

Will my student be learning the same curriculum?

Yes, all DPS schools use common curriculum maps and pacing, so this will remain consistent.

When will the teachers know if they will be teaching through Ignite?

They will be provided at least the amount of preparation time to what they would have prior to the start of the school year.

How many kids will one teacher be responsible for in a given grade?

Roughly the same numbers they are responsible for now.

Will there be AIG enrichment?
Yes, and our AIG experts are working on an innovative model for this delivery.

Will students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) be served through Ignite?

Yes, Ignite is open to all students, PK through 12th grade. A student’s ability to enroll and participate in Ignite will not be impacted by his/her disability or specific IEP needs. IEP teams may need to convene to address any unique needs the child may have specific to Ignite, if the needs have not already been addressed through the IEP process.

Will there be electives? How is that determined? For instance, how would a DSA student finish the year if his/her 2 arts electives were not fulfilled through Ignite?

Electives and specials will be offered through a combination of asynchronous and scheduled content lessons. We are planning with schools to offer as wide a variety of elective classes as possible. We also acknowledge that it is likely not possible to replicate every special and elective from all of our 53 schools at a level of service we feel comfortable with.

About returning to in-person instruction

Will we follow the original Plan B proposed during the summer? (Voluntary Ignite Online Academy or full-time in-person instruction for K-8, full online instruction for 9-12)

Based on what we have learned about online instruction, and in response to our community and school board, we are working with educators and public health officials to refine our plans. We have been asked to consider options for in-person instruction at high schools, or earlier phase-in of in-person instruction for our youngest students including pre-K or those receiving special education services through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) within a DPS separate (self-contained) EC program. The number of families committing to Ignite Online Academy will greatly affect what in-person instruction looks like when and if we are able to provide it. Schedule changes will likely have to be made to accommodate social distancing requirements for in-person learning as well.

What is the threshold of community sickness for going back in-person? Or for shutting back down?

Resuming or halting in-person instruction will depend on many factors including the rate of transmission of COVID-19 and the availability and willingness of educators and staff to return to in-person instruction. We are working with the ABC Science Collaborative at Duke University and the Durham County Department of Public Health to have the latest data as well as the most current understanding of what the science is telling us.

How will positive cases be dealt with in school?

We will screen students, staff, and school visitors on entry with temperature and symptom checks and attestations that they have not been exposed. When possible exposure is identified, employees will be sent home immediately, students will be taken to a safe isolation room to be picked up by their families, and we will immediately work with the Durham County Department of Public Health which will provide contact tracing and guidance to potentially exposed individuals. The school will be temporarily closed to protect students and staff and to allow time for the contact tracing. Students who have to quarantine will receive online learning.

Will students and staff be required to wear masks?

Unless a medical exception is documented by a doctor, all students, teachers, staff, and visitors will be required to wear face coverings. We will provide them for those who do not have them.

To apply for Ignite Online Academy
, please complete the Ignite Online Academy Intent Form. The form is available in English and SpanishThe deadline is Friday, Oct. 9.