South Bend schools to have 8 weeks of eLearning at start of school year

NOW: South Bend schools to have 8 weeks of eLearning at start of school year

SOUTH BEND, Ind. ---Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings announced Monday evening that the district will begin the school year with at least 8 weeks of eLearning.

Dr. Cummings emphasized that the big take away in navigating the reopening plan is data not date, meaning officials will rely on health data to determine how soon students will head back to the classroom, rather than setting a concrete data.

“To keep kids in our community safe,” lacrosse coach, Austin Matheny said.

The earliest students would return to in-person classes would be October 5, with a two week notice for parents. The target date is only if data from local health officials support the return.

“I want students to have face-to-face instruction as soon as it’s safe,” Superintendent Cummings said. “That is why this plan all along has been data driven, not date driven.”

Officials will look at the reopening plan in several stages, using the health data to reevaluate the safe return for students.

Some community members said that home is where the students need to be.

“If the South Bend Community School Corporation is meeting virtually, and if they are unwilling to meet in person and have a crowd of people, meeting with them in person, students cannot meet in person,” Matheny said.

Matheny is a lacrosse coach within the corporation.

“It’s a really important moment that we’re seeing right now, where sports can take center stage,” Matheny said.

If the board members cannot meet in person, it is not safe to move forward with extracurricular activities either, according to Matheny.

“Until we see changes in the, in the pattern of coronavirus cases in St. Joe County and throughout Indiana, yes,” Matheny said.

As the South Bend Community School Corporation’s back to school plan stands currently, students who are eLearning—even throughout the school year—will still be able to participate in athletics and extracurricular activities.

School officials will also take a hands-on approach to make sure students have what they need, including providing WiFi buses, meals throughout the school day and a number of resources, such as mental health professionals and special education services.

“So I want our students and our teachers back, I need to get them safe to do so we use that date to review our data,” Superintendent Cummings. “Now, if we get to the 5th and it’s not safe, my recommendation is surely not going to be to re-enter school.”

Click here to visit the district's reopening plan website.

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