Fort Wayne Community Schools joined neighboring districts Wednesday in announcing a temporary shift to fully remote lessons for schools as the coronavirus is taking its toll on staff.
The remote instruction for high school students will begin Monday and is expected to last through Dec. 4, although district administrators intend to re-evaluate plans for the rest of the semester after Thanksgiving, Superintendent MarkDaniel said in a letter to families.
“As I've stated all along, our preference is to have students in school as much as possible,” Daniel said. “And, I believe our blended schedule allowed us to hang on longer than most. We knew this would be a year when we would all have to be flexible and make changes as the needs arise.”
FWCS implemented a blended setup for middle and high school students seeking in-person instruction this fall, meaning students split their week between coming to school and learning from home.
The strategy has limited the number of students who must quarantine at those schools, Daniel has said.
However, on Wednesday he said employee absences related to illnesses and quarantines are prompting the change at the five high schools, which last year served about 8,200 students.
East Allen, Northwest Allen and Southwest Allen County Schools have made similar announcements in recent weeks.
“We are only switching high school students at this point because they are most able to work independently and do not require childcare,” Daniel said.
He noted state health officials also recommend elementary and middle school students should be the priority for in-person instruction when a community reaches red status on the state's color-coded coronavirus map.
Allen County's positivity rate was 17% Wednesday.
FWCS has reported at least 185 COVID-19 cases – including at least 94 employee cases – to the state's school virus dashboard. The online resource is updated Mondays and suppresses specific case numbers when totals are fewer than five. It doesn't track quarantine statistics.
“Making this shift allows us to assign our limited number of substitute teachers to elementary and middle schools,” Daniel said, noting FWCS isn't experiencing coronavirus spread in schools.
Parents should still select their child's learning mode for second semester through the myFWCS Parent Portal at myfwcs.fortwayneschools.org by Monday.
School changes at a glance
• Fort Wayne Community Schools' temporary remote instruction for high school students is set for Monday through Dec. 4.
• East Allen County Schools moved to virtual learning for grades seven through 12 Wednesday. In-person lessons are scheduled to resume Nov. 30.
• Northwest Allen County Schools' middle and high schools shifted to remote learning Nov. 13. Onsite learning is expected to resume Nov. 30.
• Southwest Allen County Schools' middle and high schools switched to virtual learning Nov. 11. Students are set to return to classrooms Nov. 30.