Significantly fewer students will be in Fort Wayne Community Schools classrooms this academic year if registration trends remain consistent.
More than 19,000 students have decided between the in-person and fully remote learning options, and totals as of Thursday morning showed about 40% picked remote learning, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said.
Remote learning seems more popular among elementary students, with about 50% of them selecting that option compared to slightly over 33% of middle and high school students, Stockman said.
The 30,000-student district asked parents to choose an instruction option by Wednesday so it could make staffing decisions before classes begin Aug. 13.
FWCS continued Thursday to process paper forms, a task that likely won't be finished until today, Stockman said.
Neighboring school systems offered similar choices between at-home and at-school learning. Online registration closed at 11:59 p.m. Thursday for Southwest Allen County Schools and closes today for East Allen County Schools. Northwest Allen County Schools' registration ends Tuesday for elementary and middle school and Aug. 10 for the high school.
FWCS is embracing numerous changes for the 2020-21 academic year to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Students coming to school should expect frequent hand-washing, assigned seats, mask requirements and social distancing efforts.
Social distancing will be easier as more students opt for remote learning, Superintendent Mark Daniel told the school board Monday.
“We're still uncertain entirely how we're going to create safe distancing in every classroom, but we know we've figured out from a secondary world,” Daniel told the board.
FWCS is using a blended learning strategy for the middle and high school students wanting in-person instruction, meaning students will spend part of their week at home and part of their week at school. This will reduce the number of students in buildings daily and will better allow for social distancing.
“The elementary world's a guess because it depends how many parents will do remote,” Daniel said Monday. “The numbers are trending actually more favorable for enabling us to create distance learning in the elementaries, and I think the elementary teachers need to hear that. That's a good thing.”
Families have until Sept. 3 to change the learning option for their child.
Parents who missed the Wednesday deadline will be able to call their school beginning Monday with their decision, Stockman said. She added any new enrollees also will be able to choose.
“If we don't hear from a parent at all,” Stockman said, “the default will be in-person or blended instruction, depending on the grade level.”