Local schools are making plans to continue teaching students following the state’s announcement Thursday that classrooms will remain empty for the rest of the spring.
Area school leaders said their districts would finish the academic year by distance learning, as traditional springtime school rituals like prom are put on hold during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Indiana joined a growing list of states closing schools as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. Montgomery County confirmed two additional cases Friday morning, bringing the total to 12. The virus is blamed for 102 deaths in Indiana, including one in Fountain County.
In a message to parents, Crawfordsville Community School Superintendent Dr. Scott Bowling said 89 people had been tested for COVID-19 in Montgomery County.
The county’s roughly 6,000 public school students have been out of the classroom since mid-March, when the state originally ordered schools closed through the first of May.
Under Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive order, to complete the year Indiana’s K-12 schools must provide remote learning until they complete 160 instructional days or, if they haven’t reached that number, at least 20 additional days of distance learning between now and the last day of school.
“We have and will continue to discuss our plans for distance learning with the other county school corporations in an effort to be consistent throughout the community,” Bowling wrote in the letter to parents.
North Montgomery has modified online lessons to become more manageable for families, and South Montgomery said it was working on a plan to continue virtual instruction and other supports. Indiana schools have two weeks to submit plans for the rest of the school year to the state.
“We know that in a time of crisis, both adults and children need predictability and routine,” North Montgomery Community School Corp. Superintendent Dr. Colleen Moran said. “Daily lessons have become part of the routine, which is essential during this period of isolation that limits families from so many other activities.”
In a video to parents, Southmont High School principal Dr. Doug Miller said the prom committee was discussing holding the event in the summer, depending on changes to social distancing guidelines. The graduation ceremony may also be moved to the summer, Miller said.
South Montgomery said announcements would be made on plans for mobile meal service. Greiner said administrators are consulting with the state on special education and career and technical education certification hours.
At Southeast Fountain, which does not have e-learning and many students don’t have access to the internet or computers, Superintendent Dr. Foster said in a letter to parents that administrators were still evaluating the governor’s order. Links to extended learning programs for each grade level have been posted on the district’s website.
“During this time of confusion and uncertainty, it is important that we remain united and connected. This also means recognizing that, right now, prioritizing the health and well-being of our students may mean somewhat deprioritizing learning goals,” Foster said.
Superintendents acknowledged the impact the pandemic is having on local families and praised school employees and families.
“Our school family has been a bright spot in an otherwise uncertain time in history,” Greiner said.