Students returning to in-person classes next week

MISHAWAKA, Ind.-- Many school districts in Michiana have begun with virtual learning this year, and next week marks back-to-school, pandemic style, for Penn Harris Madison students.

“We’re obviously excited to welcome students back into Penn Harris Madison schools, and we’ve provided several options for families because we are sensitive to the vary needs and feelings that families have in the midst of this pandemic,” PHM Chief Operations Officer Aaron Leniski said.

In order to bring back over 13,000 students and staff back to school, PHM has worked with the St. Joseph County Health Department to put the best safety guidelines in place for in-person learning.

“We put a lot of procedures in place, we’ve made some facility upgrades to make sure that students are safe,” Leniski said.

Safety precautions in the classroom, in the cafeteria and custodial cleaning protocols are being implemented

Everyone is required to wear a mask at all times, practice social distancing when possible and self-monitor for COVID symptoms prior to leaving their home every day.

Good hand washing habits are strongly encouraged and all students and employees will receive training on safety protocols related to preventing the possible spread of COVID.

Bus transportation and even athletic and fine arts guidelines are also highlighted in the back-to-school plan.

“We have a lot of protective devices that we’ve been given, we’ve been given masks, shields barriers at our desks, I think that the effort has been made to keep us as safe as possible,” a PHM teacher said.

PHM parents have the option to send their kids off to school or keep them 100% virtual at home.

So far at PHM, about 70-80% students plan to come back to class.

“It’s always best to teach them face to face and I feel like we have a lot of good measures in place right now to be able to keep us safe as teachers and the students as safe as possible,” PHM teacher said.

Leniski said that there have been concerns that have been brought to the table for both virtual and in-person learning, but feels confident that their guidelines will provide the best education possible for students.

“We’re committed to serving both students, whether you’re in person or whether you’re virtual. You’ll be interacting with a teacher and receiving and equitable education.”

In-person learning for elementary students PreK- grade 3 begins on September 14.

Elementary students in grades 4 and 5 begin on September 21.

The hybrid model, a blend of in-person and virtual learning for middle and high school student’s grades 6-12 also begins on September 21.

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