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PHM administrators recommend virtual classes through October

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MISHAWAKA, Ind.-- In an email sent out to Penn Harris Madison school parents on Thursday, PHM announced that they will be recommending to the Board of School Trustees that students participate in virtual learning until late October because of COVID-19 concerns.

Some PHM parents are not on board with that possibility.

“I was not, I am not willing to, I guess I should say I don’t want to push back his education for this, I think it’s just so detrimental to all the kids,” Parent of PHM student Leah Pippen said.

According to PHM administrators, they have been working closely with the St. Joe County Department of Health prior to the recommendation.

PHM parents said that although virtual learning can be a great option for some, that it isn’t the best for all.

“There’s plenty of people who want to keep their kids home and I think that that’s totally fair I think that’s a decision that a parent should be able to make, but I don’t think that’s it’s how everyone feels and again it doesn’t work for everybody,” Parent of PHM student Liz Slabaugh said.

Pippen said that PHM has done a great job with keeping families updated during the pandemic, but felt that parent’s voices and concerns haven’t been considered

“They do have updates and they have been very thorough, so I really appreciate that but I haven’t felt like there has been an avenue for us as parents to voice our concerns, whether it would be me as a parent who wants my child in school, or it would be a parent who doesn’t want their child in school,” Pippen said.

Some PHM parents main concern with virtual learning is the mental health of the children.

“Kids mental health is going to take a huge hit during all of this, not seeing their friends and not having that normal social interaction that kids are used to and that kids really need,” Slabaugh said.

“I’ve talked with children specifically 1-on-1 who are already having anxiety and issues because they’re so worried and they miss their friends, they miss their teachers, they miss learning,” Pippen said.

PHM will recommend this virtual learning change to the school board next Monday, August 3.

Both Slabaugh and Pippen hope they will offer more options to parents besides just virtual learning.

“I don’t see why there isn’t some sort of other option for parents who want to sent their kids back,” Slabaugh said.

“It’s just very frustrating, my heart hurts not just for my child but for all the kids who are missing out on a whole bunch of education, structure, everything that goes with being in school,” Pippen said.

Currently under the proposal, in-person classes would resume on October 27.

Families will be given a two week notice of any changes with returning to in-person learning.

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