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Parent’s Playbook: Middlebury superintendent Jane Allen talks reopening plans

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 5:26 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Middlebury parents have a decision to make today: It's the deadline for them to decide whether their kids are going to school in person or virtually.

Our Tricia Sloma spoke to the superintendent about their back to school plans.

Tricia Sloma: For Parent’s Playbook we are catching up with Middlebury’s plans for the new school year with Superintendent Jane Allen. Hello Mrs. Allen, good to see you again.

Mrs. Allen: Good morning.

We have your first day as August 12. Is that still the plan?

Yes it is. That’s correct. When we are going to begin.

Now, just this week you completed your administrative staff trainings and meetings, what was the goal there? What was accomplished?

We spent a lot of time, reminding all of the principals and administrators, all of the things that need to be done in the buildings to make sure everything’s ready and we’re very close to that. We also talked about different scenarios and how things could work with masks and how things would work with social distancing and, and all of the circumstances that we need to prepare for.

I bet a year ago you weren’t even thinking about how much disinfectant you would need and how much hand sanitizer you would need, right?

Oh, you’re correct. Absolutely. We had no anticipation of this ever happening.

Well what learning options are available for Middlebury families?

We are offering two options basically for all K-12 is an in-person option and K-5 is all in person and some of the K-12 at the middle school and high school, some of the students due to social distancing guidelines we might have to have some of the students see some of the classrooms virtually during the school day, but they would still be there. So in other words, we would have part of the class in the classroom, and then some of the students in a different room with another adult and watching the teacher teach livestream on their computers farther in the building, and that would be a variable on the middle school and high school mostly. And then our other option is all virtual and it would be livestream or video recorded teachers teaching, basically. We aren’t doing the E learning packets and the assignments and all that sort of thing like we did last spring.

Do you expect any problems with face masks in your school?

I think once I’ve always said that when we have children and we have to teach them to do things they do very well, it’s a matter of getting used to it and the teachers with their enormous patience will be able to handle that I think the issues we have will be making sure everyone has a mask and getting them on the bus with a mask and things like that to start with, but I anticipate that once we get started the kids are going to be great, it’s just going to be getting used to teaching them how to use them and wear them and all that sort of thing.

Well Elkhart county has the highest number of COVID cases in our area. Are you concerned that your school year is going to be drastically altered if there are outbreaks with students and staff?

We all are concerned in Elkhart County yes. That’s something that we’ve tried to plan for that, that virtual possibility. And if we do have to shut down, either a classroom or a building or part of a school even, we will be able to go right to the virtual from where we were with the classroom because that’s the way we are working.

Well, these are unprecedented times and we wish you the absolute best. Good health to you and to all of your staff and students there in Middlebury, we wish you the absolute best.

Thank you so very much appreciate it.

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