November 19, 2020
Based on the recent challenges the District has been experiencing due to COVID-19 related issues, I have made the decision to make Monday, November 23, and Tuesday, November 24 as well as December 1st - 4th remote learning days. Students will return to in-person instruction on December 7, 2020. Simply stated, this week has been incredibly difficult for all of us, and it has severely impacted our ability to remain open. I do not take this decision lightly and apologize in advance for the inconvenience this decision may cause. Following are the most recent developments in cases and challenges we have been faced with this week alone:
Horace Mann Elementary
The District was notified of a probable positive case of COVID-19 at Horace Mann Elementary. This is the second active case within the current two-week window, and we believe the cases are related. It is our understanding that the individual is being treated as a probable positive case as they started exhibiting symptoms on Monday. The student has not been in school since Monday. The Department of Health (DOH) worked with the School Nurse and Administration and concluded that six additional staff and/or students need to be quarantined as a result of the positive case.
East Pike Elementary
The District was made aware of a positive case late last evening. In addition, we were made aware of a positive case in our Alpha program at the Community Guidance Center. It is our understanding that these most recent cases are not connected to the previous cases that resulted in the closure of East Pike; however, it further supports our decision to close. Finally, one of our foodservice employees tested positive and had to quarantine several additional food service workers as a result.
The District was notified that a bus driver has tested positive for COVID-19. The driver was last on the bus on Monday, November 16. It is our understanding that one student will be quarantined as a result of the positive case.
The District was notified that three students and one staff member have tested positive for COVID-19; however, two of those students were not in school during their infectious period. The other student was in attendance at school, as was the support staff member. The student’s schedule results in limited exposure to other students. The students, faculty, and associated support staff who were exposed to this student are now quarantined. The school is in regular contact with the DOH to determine if any other students will need to be quarantined due to the numbers of increasing, positive cases of COVID-19. The District was notified that the Head Coach of the Hockey team made the decision to shut down the program through December 7th as a precautionary measure due to COVID-19 related issues.
The district was notified Wednesday night of a positive COVID-19 case. The DOH worked with the School Nurse and Administration and concluded that 11 students, 3 teachers aides, and a teacher needed to be quarantined as a result of the positive case due to exposure.
I have made the decision to make the aforementioned days remote learning days based on the following:
- 6 days (November 23 and 24 and December 1-4) of remote learning turns into 16 days without students in the schools to help mitigate the spread. I am hopeful that these 16 days will result in our active cases being removed and each school returning to no known active cases on December 7, 2020.
- We currently have 20 active cases in the District and 12 positive/probable cases this week alone.
- The community spread is rising and it is getting more challenging to overcome as it is entering our doors. As of November 14, 2020, nearly 60% of the positive cases are identified as community spread and only 0.01% are attributed to school transmission; however, not knowing where the spread is occurring is starting to impact our schools. This was made evident by the most recent closure at East Pike Elementary and recent spike in cases throughout the District.
- The High School and Jr. High both now have 3-4 active cases, and that would require a closure of 3-7 days as per our approved Health and Safety Plan.
- IRMC’s numbers have grown in regard to the number of COVID-19 patients receiving service. We must work together to ensure that our healthcare system does not become overwhelmed.
- This action is taken out of an abundance of caution in an effort to avoid exposing students and families, to eliminate the potential for spread, as well as to avoid a longer and more disruptive closure.
Schedules and additional information will be forthcoming from your child’s school for the expectations surrounding the six days of remote learning on or about November 20, 2020. Any families experiencing technical issues with a school-issued device may submit a ticket via the district’s website. (iasd.cc - Services - Technology Services - Click on the "Tech. Support for Families" link.)
Meals will be available for pickup while students are not physically in attendance. Distribution of meals takes place every Wednesday between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Indiana Area Senior High School. Parents are required to reserve meals, prior to pickup, by visiting the foodservice webpage (www.iasd.cc/apps/pages/foodservice), scrolling down toward the bottom of the page, and completing a short survey for each student who will be receiving meals. Please note that the survey closes first thing on Monday mornings in order to prepare for distribution. You will not be able to pick up meals if your pre-registration has not been confirmed.
However, due to the Thanksgiving holiday, for next week five days’ worth of meals will be available for pick up on Tuesday, November 24th. Meals for next week must be pre-ordered no later than 3:00 p.m. on Monday, November 23rd on the foodservice webpage.
Please be aware that all athletics and other extracurricular activities are suspended from November 20 - December 6. Activities may resume on December 7. No practices, rehearsals, events, competitions, or gatherings of any kind are permitted to take place until December 7. Our hope is that a short-term suspension of student activities will stop any potential spread of the virus in these settings, preserving the long-term goal of having a Winter-Sports season. I realize that this may cause hurt and frustration, but it is a proactive measure that will hopefully allow us to continue with programming in a safe and responsible manner.
On behalf of the entire District, please know we are doing all we can. As the holiday season approaches, your diligent efforts in modeling appropriate safety behaviors and speaking with your child about the need to wear masks, social distance, and washing their hands frequently are needed more than ever. Also, quarantining is used to reduce the spread of Covid 19. Quarantine means stay at home and monitor your health. If you have been asked to quarantine, please adhere to it. We thank you all for what you have done already and thank you for the work that is to come. We truly appreciate you all.
Mr. Michael J. Vuckovich