Next week, life should be getting just a little bit more back to normal for students in the Whitley County School District.
Starting Monday, March 22, students opting for in-person learning will likely be going to school five days per week.
Superintendent John Siler made the announcement to school district staff in an e-mail Thursday morning.
“Let me first begin by saying how great it was to see buses and classrooms this week that resembled how they looked prior to COVID 19. Our first week with four day per week in-person instruction has gone very well and that is in large part due to all our employees following safety protocols and requiring students to do the same. My hope is that the incidence rate in our county continues to decline and that we do not have any pockets of outbreaks in our school district. Certainly, following the guidance of the CDC and other health organizations as best we can, will lessen the chances of having quarantines or positive cases that derive from the school setting,” Siler wrote Thursday.
“I am often asked by parents, staff members and others in the community when I believe things will go back to normal in the school system. I wish I could answer that question; but, I don’t believe anyone knows when COVID is no longer going to affect the way we lead our lives and the way we conduct school in some way or another. Today, what I do want to share is our plan for in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year.”
Siler wrote in the e-mail that the district would continue with four-day per week instruction through Friday, March 19, in order to see if the incidence rate continues to steadily decline. This will also allow school officials to monitor COVID-19 activity in the school district.
On Monday, the Whitley County Health Department reported eight new cases, and had a COVID-19 incidence rate of 20.1, which places it in the state’s orange zone.
If this week goes well, Siler said that he and the school board hope to return to five day per week in-person instruction starting March 22.
“Hopefully, we will be able to give our students almost six full weeks of in-person instruction,” Siler wrote in his e-mail to staff. “I know we have all had our challenges brought about by the pandemic regardless of what job we do in the school system. Let me express my appreciation for how so many have risen to the challenge.”
As of Thursday, Siler noted that about 65 percent of Whitley County students were learning via in-person instruction, and 35 percent were doing virtual learning.
“I think you will slowly start to see it grow,” he added about in-person attendance.