The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, December 16, 2020 1:00 am

Be prepared for change, FWCS families urged

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Winter break won't begin for Fort Wayne Community Schools students until Friday, but Superintendent Mark Daniel already is assigning homework to families – make backup plans for when classes resume Jan. 4.

“Because we do not know what our area will look like in two weeks, families should be prepared for any scenario,” Daniel said in a letter to families Tuesday. “This will be true not just for the start of the second semester but for many months to come.”

He suggests that families plan for fully remote learning. FWCS tries to give as much notice as possible about switches in learning formats, he said, but changes could be announced for a school or the district with little warning because illness – not planned time off – is involved.

Daniel said the district will continue two-hour delays on Wednesdays for all students through the third quarter, saying teachers and students have benefited from the extra time. Decisions about the fourth quarter will be made in March, he added.

Daniel also is encouraging students and staffers to remain vigilant over the break about hand-washing and mask wearing.

He told the school board Monday the district hasn't experienced surges from the Thanksgiving holiday, saying that's partially due to high schools having been fully remote in recent weeks.

“Still asking everyone to, throughout the holiday season, remain careful with your gatherings,” Daniel said at the board meeting.

FWCS has reported at least 282 COVID-19 cases to the state school virus dashboard, which is updated Mondays with information current as of the previous Friday. This includes at least 139 student cases.

Specifics are unavailable because the dashboard, which lists cases by school, excludes totals fewer than five.

The Nov. 30 update – the Monday after Thanksgiving – showed FWCS with at least 244 COVID-19 cases, including at least 126 among students.

The district's nursing staff will work through the holidays, Daniel said, so employees and families may use the COVID-19 hotline, 467-1907, if needed.

Keeping FWCS abreast of positive COVID-19 tests during the break is important for contact tracing, the start of second semester and those involved in athletics, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said.

In his letter, Daniel thanked families for their patience and flexibility during the first semester, which ends Thursday. To the board, he shared a Christmas wish about in-person learning.

“Wouldn't it be marvelous if we actually had every student return for fourth quarter? I'll still dream that,” he said. “Hopefully Santa brings that for us.”

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