South Bend schools discuss reopening plan for elementary schools

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 5:15 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The South Bend Community School Corporation could reopen its elementary buildings the week of February 22nd.

The 18 buildings were closed in March of 2020 and have had limited capacity ever since.

A recommendation goes before the school board tonight that would bring students in grades pre-K through 5 back for face to face learning four days a week. Wednesdays would remain e-learning days. The hybrid option would be eliminated, although parents could choose to continue doing 100 percent of their learning remotely at home.

“Instead of having our students have only two days of face to face instruction it would increase to the four days,” said Brandon White, Chief Academic Officer for the SBCSC. “So, it would increase the amount of students in a building in a given day but we’re still not looking at them being at full capacity because of those students wanting to remain on remote only instruction.”

The two South Bend schools with the highest COVID numbers are both high schools: Adams has 47 and Riley has 40.

Only two elementary buildings have more than 20 cases (McKinley and Swanson), while the three South Bend schools with the lowest numbers are all elementary buildings: Coquillard with six, Lincoln with seven, and Muessel with seven.

“Elementary students and elementary classroom environments have not been demonstrated to spread or increase the spread of the virus so, should say and so that’s why we feel at this time we can bring back kids safely without increasing the rate of transmission,” explained White.

School reopening is not being considered for primary grades at this time.

The recommended plan that goes before the school board tonight would pilot the proposed changes at three elementary schools the week of February 16th. “To look at some just smaller situations where we’re looking at bringing back grade levels at a building so that we can really identify and make sure that the protocols that we have in place are effective,” said White.

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