Vigo County Schools update return-to-school plan

Wabash Valley COVID-19 updates

Revisions include a new elementary option, a remote learning day per week for every middle/high school student to reduce student numbers in buildings

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The Vigo County School Corporation has released an updated return-to-school plan, based on staff, community and parent feedback.

Families choosing an alternative education option for their child should visit by July 29 to formalize their decision, which includes a new option for elementary school students.

The plan is posted on the school website and is a fluid document designed to respond to guidance from the local health department and state agencies.

According to Bill Riley, VCSC director of communications, the corporation is monitoring local COVID-19 data and talking to the Vigo County Health Department on a daily basis, and the plan will continue to evolve as community feedback is gathered and local, state and federal conditions are analyzed.

“This plan is the safest possible plan for students who want to return,” Riley said. “But the plan also has appropriate, feasible options for those who do not.”

The updated plan incorporates changes based on community and staff feedback, and features a new hybrid option for elementary school students.

Elementary students now have two alternative options, and middle and high school students have one alternative option.

The traditional setting for middle and high school students will feature a one-day-a-week remote learning day for students, based on last name. This 20% reduction in the number of middle and high school students in the building will reduce the number of students in common areas such as cafeterias and hallways.

The major updates include:

  • Strengthened language regarding masking making it clear that students and staff will be wearing masks.
  • Hybrid option for elementary school. Riley said this option will be good for children who plan to come back to a VCSC building post-COVID-19.
  • 4-day week for middle/high school. A remote learning day for 20% of the students in middle and high schools will allow for more social distancing.
  • Added water fountain language: Water fountains can only be used to refill a bottle.
  • Added no visitor/volunteer language.

The plan continues to develop through multiple conversations with each Vigo County School Corporation employee group—including the Vigo County Teachers Association—and with guidance from the Vigo County Health Department and other local healthcare leaders.

Jodie Buckallew, president of the teachers association, said their concerns continue to vary as they get closer to the first day of school, but they’re remaining fluid.

“We’re going to look at creative ways to take care of those teachers with health concerns and look at our students with health concerns. We’re going to look at social distancing. It’s ongoing,” she noted. “What I’m saying today could absolutely be different on Thursday, depending on what cases look like in Vigo County and where we are at the state.”

Elementary students may now choose from three options:

1. Traditional: in-school learning, 5 days per week, following our mitigation plan

2. Hybrid: learning from home but staying enrolled in the districted school and working with a teacher in that school, following VCSC’s curriculum

3. Virtual: enrolling in VVSA and working with VCSC teachers monitoring and assisting students as they complete Edmentum’s Calvert elementary curriculum.

Middle and high school students continue to have two options:

1. Traditional: in-school learning, following our mitigation plan, four days per week to limit the number of students in the building

2. Virtual: enrolling in VVSA with VCSC teachers monitoring and assisting students.

For each option, the student must continue that option for the first nine weeks so that our staffing of these options can be reliable.

The deadline for parent choice will be July 29.

Riley noted virtual students may not participate in middle school or high school athletics, due to IHSAA rules governing stand-alone virtual schools.

Hybrid and virtual student participation in extra- and co-curricular activities is subject to principal and teacher/sponsor approval.

In consultation with Covered Bridge and the teacher of record, special education students may be able to move to a homebound model, similar to the elementary hybrid model. Contact the child’s teacher of record and/or Covered Bridge for more information.

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