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Parent’s Playbook: Taking a look at Elkhart Community Schools’ plan for re-entry

Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 4:57 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - We’re taking a deep-dive into the plan in place for Elkhart Community Schools as they look to start the 2020-2021 school year on August 13th.

“We’re taking every precaution that we can so we’re able to do what we say we’re going to do,” Dr. Steven Thalheimer, Superintendent for Elkhart Community Schools says. “I know it’s a time of uncertainty. I know with the way that the cases are in the county that people are concerned, and again that’s why we’ve taken the approach of saying that we’re in that moderate spread situation.”

So here’s how they hope to stop that spread and keep students safe.

Parents and students can pick one of two plans; either in-class for two days with virtual e-learning for three days, or the second plan which is all virtual e-learning and no in-classroom work. For now, this is only for the fall semester but administrators plan to decide about the spring semester by Thanksgiving.

For those that choose in-classroom learning, half of that group will be in on Monday and Wednesday, the other half on Tuesday and Thursday with e-learning the other days out of class. This is to promote social distancing at the school.

For those choosing all e-learning and no in-class work, this e-learning will differ from the emergency e-learning from last spring. There will be structured course work and a virtual classroom and teacher at least part of the time with interaction/discussion with other students online.

For those heading into classrooms, what about safety?

“We’re looking at having half the number of students in a classroom, that allows us to be able to space those students out,” Dr Thalheimer says.

Also, requiring a mask and staff cleaning high-touch points daily. All students will be provided two cloth masks that can be washed and reused.

Parents must take the students temperature before school, if it is above 100.4, the student has to stay home.

At school, a mask can only be removed when seated at their desk or when given permission by staff. Field trips and assemblies are cancelled.

If a student becomes symptomatic at school there is an isolation area, and the student must be picked up within an hour.

To keep social distancing, lunches, recess and dismissals will be staggered as much as possible. As for buses, there will be assigned seating, masks must be worn, and only siblings will be allowed to sit together. The first students that enter the bus must go to the back to avoid students walking by each other.

If there is a positive case at your school, parents will receive an email notification. The district adds that they are working with community partners to help families with any struggles they may have such as daycare or internet access.

Parents and students need to choose a plan before August 13th.

You can find the summary and full plan here.

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