Schools are closed for the year
Little did school children know the last day they would see their classmates for the 2019-2020 year would be when they left before Spring Break. Seniors lament their coveted spot for prom and graduation, among other activities that comes with the year they’ve worked toward. But, with the signature of Governor Eric Holcomb, Indiana schools will be closed for the remainder of the year. This executive order requires all K-12 schools in Indiana to provide instruction via remote learning for the rest of the school year and outline options for districts to continue education during the fight against COVID-19.
That action was taken on Thursday, April 2 with Governor Holcomb saying, “Students are the future of our state and teachers are the heart of our schools. While COVID-19 is impacting every classroom, our teachers, administrators, school board members and school staff are going to extraordinary levels to deliver quality learning to students all across our state, even while school buildings are closed. We’ll continue to do everything we can to empower educators and parents, while protecting students’ health.”
“I certainly empathize with the seniors in the Class of 2020,” noted Rob Moorhead, superintendent of South Ripley schools. “We are dealing with something bigger than all of us and I understand the actions that are being taken by federal, state and local leaders in response. We will do our best to look for ways to honor and recognize the Class of 2020 as circumstances will allow. We may have to delay some events, or do things in different ways, but we want to be able to honor our seniors.”
He continued, “As for our eLearning activities, I am extremely confident in the job being done by our teachers and staff to provide continuation of learning through this crisis. Our meal delivery service continues to be a bright spot, as we are now providing meals for 735 of our students each weekday. I appreciate everyone involved with making this run so smoothly. We will continue to focus on the positives and take care of each other and know that we will come out stronger on the other side. I know our Raider family will pull together and help our school community meet this challenge.”
Other superintendents are also working toward the same goals. They are very concerned about seniors and how they can proceed without putting anyone’s life in danger. They are getting creative and somehow pledge that the Class of 2020 will not be forgotten.
Shutting down schools was not taken lightly. It was done rather in an attempt to curb the tide of losing people to COVID-19, including teachers and students and their families.
The governor, along with Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick, directed the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) to provide flexibility for school corporations for students who are to graduate in 2020.
“I can’t believe I won’t get to graduate with all my classmates,” one senior lamented. “It just doesn’t seem fair that we’ve worked our whole school career for this moment and now it may not come.” The student, who didn’t want to be identified, said she will push forward and start thinking about the college she will attend (hopefully) in the fall, but it still hurts.
All K-12 schools will also need to submit a plan for review and approval by IDOE by April 17. There are flexible ways education can be carried out such as: eLearning, extended learning, project-based portfolio learning, competency-based learning, partnerships with higher education for increased student supports, etc., according to information from the governor’s office.
In order to complete the school year, all schools previously received a 20-day waiver to reduce the number of required in-person or remote instruction days to 160. Schools will need to continue to provide instruction by remote learning until they complete either 160 days of instructional learning, or at least 20 additional days of remote learning between the date of the executive order (April 2, and the end of the school year.) If a school completes 20 days and falls short of the required 160 instructional days, the Indiana Department of Education can waive the difference.
The executive order also extends teacher licenses expiring between March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020 until September 1, 2020. This is a continuing effort with more deadlines and requirements for the current school year being looked at by Dr. McCormick and other relevant state agencies.