TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — All in-person elementary school students in the Vigo County School Corporation will return to a five-day-per-week schedule Tuesday, Oct. 6.
VCSC officials on Wednesday announced the metered plan to return in-person/traditional students to a regular schedule.
According to VCSC Director of Communications Bill Riley, the plan, developed with the input of the COVID-19 Task Force and the Vigo County Teachers Association, depends on continued success limiting spread within schools.
“The corporation will continue to require masking, encourage distancing and employ enhanced sanitation measures to protect the community,” he said in a press release. “Athletic events will continue with the current safety measures and reduced capacities.”
Pending continued success, all in-person/traditional middle school students and 9th graders may return to a five-day-per-week schedule on Tuesday, Oct. 13. An announcement formalizing this step will be made late next week.
Pending further continued success, all in-person/traditional students in grades 10-12 may return to school later this fall.
“Our partnership with the Vigo County Health Department and our commitment to contact tracing has revealed that a vast majority of cases in our buildings are coming from households, and our mitigation procedures and focus on quarantine are preventing outbreaks in our buildings,” Dr. Rob Haworth, superintendent, said. “We ask our students and staff to continue to stay home if they experience symptoms.”
Riley says this plan was made possible due to some key health indicators trending in the right direction.
“Vigo County for the second week in a row has been in the blue zone on the state’s color coded-map, that’s the best level that you can be. We’re really heartened by that,” Riley said.
Riley says more importantly through contact tracing school officials have learned that many cases of COVID-19 are not caused by the activity at school directly.
“They’re coming from households, they’re coming from the community and so that’s really good for us,” Riley said.
He also says that contact tracing will remain the key factor in keeping students in the classroom moving forward.
“If we find that the load for contact tracing is too much that tells us that we need to step back,” Riley said.
The district is continuing to discuss with families a return to school for students in the hybrid programs at the elementary and middle school level. Hybrid was developed as a program to ease students back into the classroom.
At the elementary level, hybrid will continue for those finding success with the program; however, the teacher delivering that program may change based on staffing needs.
At the middle school level, the district is evaluating the program as we discuss the success of the program with families and staff. Those who intend to stay at home this year may be asked to consider the virtual program so that the student can be guided by the virtual program’s success coaches for more teacher engagement. Special education students will continue to have their needs met through a variety of methods and any changes to their education may require an individual case conference.
The district is also asking families to consider a return to bus transportation to ease congestion at pick-up and drop-off. Currently, few students are using the buses. Families returning to the bus should contact the transportation office to review pickup and drop-off times as those may have changed.