South Bend schools transitioning high school and middle schools to virtual instruction

High schools and middle schools in the South Bend Community School Corporation will transition to virtual instruction on November 24, Superintendent Todd Cummings announced Friday.

The decision came after discussions with school board members, principals and members of the corporation’s COVID-19 task force, which includes Dr. Mark Fox of the health department.

“Obviously, this is a complex decision, but based on the information from area health experts, including Dr. Fox, there is strong evidence that elementary school students are not ‘efficient transmitters,’ meaning the risk of spread is low in elementary classrooms,” Cummings said. “The biggest piece of community transmission is happening at small to medium social gatherings like birthday celebrations and dinner parties, not at our schools. For the community, we encourage mask wearing, hand washing, staying home if ill, and maintaining social distancing to contain the spread of the virus.”

High school students who participate in the Career Technical Education programs or those whose grades put them of not graduating will return to in person learning.

The St. Joseph County Department of Health issued new guidelines on Wednesday that included recommendations high school students return to virtual learning, pause any in-person extracurricular activities and limit spectators at sporting events to family only.

South Bend schools will be following the county’s guidance by ensuring extracurricular activities are virtual only and spectators at athletic events will be limited to family only.

“As we have for the past several months, we will continue to monitor the health data, decide on closures on a school-by-school basis, and base our decisions on that data, doing what we believe is best for our students and staff,” Cummings said.

Elementary students will continue with their hybrid model of in-person and eLearning.

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