UPDATE (Feb. 9):
At their meetings on Monday, Feb. 8, both the South Bend and Penn-Harris-Madison school boards voted to approve their districts' plans to return certain students to full-time in-person instruction.
PREVIOUS POST (Feb. 8):
Two local school boards will vote on whether to return certain students to full-time in-person learning.
The South Bend Community School Corporation will vote on whether to return elementary students to the classroom full-time, while Penn-Harris-Madison schools will vote on whether to transition secondary students who chose a hybrid learning option to full-time in-person instruction.
Both plans are dependent on the county’s COVID-19 metrics and approval from the St. Joseph County Health Department. The county reported a positivity rate of 3.7 percent for Feb. 8, putting that metric in the “green” for the first time in months.
South Bend elementary schoolers who chose an in-person learning option have been on a hybrid schedule since October, attending in-person class two days a week based on their last names.
Brandon White, chief academic officer for South Bend Community Schools, said pending board approval, the district would bring back elementary schoolers four days a week starting Feb. 22, after a short pilot program to make sure schools’ safety protocols work for an increased number of students.
“Research shows us that elementary students – with proper masking, social distancing – do not increase transmission of the virus, and so we feel comfortable that we’re not putting people at greater risk,” White said.
P-H-M students grades 6-12 moved to full-time virtual learning in November, when coronavirus cases in St. Joseph County were soaring. The district re-introduced a hybrid model last month, and now that the county’s metrics are in the state’s “yellow” designation, officials are looking to slowly bring middle and high schoolers back full-time.
According to the P-H-M Return To Learn plan, P-H-M middle and high schoolers would transition by grade level, attending in-person class two to four days a week until April. After spring break, all secondary students would attend in-person class five days a week.
Both school districts would still offer a full-time remote learning option for students who don’t want to return to the classroom yet.
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