Based on improving internal and community COVID-19-related data, the Vigo County School Corporation is working to move all middle and high school students to a four-day-per-week in-person learning schedule. Under this plan, Monday will still be a remote learning day for all middle and high school students, and all students who chose in-person learning this year will attend school Tuesday through Friday. The plan has been developed with consultation from the Vigo County School Corporation COVID-19 Task Force, the Vigo County Health Department, and several local healthcare leaders.
Middle school students will attend school four days per week starting on Tuesday, March 2. High school students will start a four-day-per-week schedule on Tuesday, March 9. The plan was approved in Monday night’s board meeting.
The move to more in-person learning for middle and high school students is focused on improving the academic success and mental health of students. The district will retain Monday as a remote learning day for middle and high school students to continue to practice remote learning and to allow for contact tracing for weekend cases.
“This is an opportunity for us to refocus on our mitigation strategies,” said Dr. Rob Haworth, superintendent of schools. “Our continued defense against the spread of the virus at school coupled with lower community spread has brought us to this day, and we must continue to be safe.”
Student mental health continues to be a concern. In January 2021, the district saw a 83% increase over January 2020 in school-based crisis assessments. By February 10, 2021, the district had already reached the February 2020 total for school-based crisis assessments.
The Vigo County School Corporation has an additional tool to combat the spread of COVID-19. The district has begun testing symptomatic staff members–who are still staying home when symptomatic–using BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests.
The district has studied districts with large high schools like Brownsburg, Avon, and Plainfield–schools with students who have attended school 5 days per week–and has concluded that community spread, not educational model, is the largest driver of cases in the school setting. Other large districts who have been in an A/B schedule at the secondary level like Bartholomew County and Seymour have already announced similar plans to move to full in-person instruction. The district continues to see minimal spread within school settings, including at the elementary level where students attend each day. While quarantine numbers may increase, the district and schools will develop the best possible plans for high traffic situations like lunch.
“We support the idea of a staggered return to in-person learning for middle and high school students as community case numbers and local hospitalization rates continue to hold steady,” said Dr. Darren Brucken, Vigo County Health Commissioner. “The benefits to students in regards to academics, mental health, and interpersonal relationships with our teachers is undeniable. Continued mitigation strategies of distancing and masking will be strictly observed, and we will continue to monitor community case numbers and work together to contact trace cases.”
All schools within Vigo County will be monitored, and staff availability will continue to be the most important indicator of when a school may need a period of remote learning.
Rules for Vigo County School Corporation athletic events will not change at this time, and each participating athlete will still be allotted 4 tickets per contest.