E-learning continues as schools close for year

Kayla Renie/The Herald
Northeast Dubois High School remains closed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

Teachers, students and parents got sobering news Thursday afternoon.

During the daily COVID-19 press conference, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick announced that public schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.

The closure doesn’t mean school is out of session for the year. McCormick said schools will be required to continue instruction via e-learning or distance learning, and log at least 160 days of instruction for the school year. E-learning, McCormick said, is instruction that uses a classroom management system, and is done primarily or totally online. Distance learning is a combination of online resources and paper-and-pencil activities that may include an online classroom management system. How schools continue to instruct their students is a local decision, McCormick said.

Following McCormick’s announcement, the Indiana High School Athletic Association canceled all spring sports seasons, as well. Indiana is the 11th state to cancel spring sports, according to the IndyStar.

Local school leadership teams are meeting today to develop plans for continued instruction, and plan to send the information to parents this afternoon.

“Today, Governor Eric Holcomb announced that all K-12 schools in Indiana shall continue to provide instruction via remote learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year,” Greater Jasper Superintendent Tracy Lorey wrote in a Facebook post on the corporation’s page. “We will be communicating a more detailed plan of how we intend to complete the school year tomorrow, Friday, April 3, 2020. Thank you so very much for your continued support and collaboration on this matter.”

For seniors wondering what the continued closure means for them, McCormick said the Indiana Department of Education wants to do everything it can to ensure they graduate. During the press conference, she announced that seniors will get credit for any course they are enrolled in this semester to ensure that they earn the credits necessary to graduate.

“Our goal is to get you across that stage,” McCormick said.

Although whether or not seniors will get to actually walk across a stage is still unknown. McCormick said it will be up to local school officials to schedule graduation ceremonies and other milestone events — such as prom — when the pandemic emergency ends.

“Those milestone moments are going to be tough,” she said.

As for younger students, McCormick said schools will be required to file continuous learning plans with the IDOE by April 17 that will cover how schools plan to fill gaps in instruction and ensure students stay on track. McCormick said they know there will be gaps. The challenge now is figuring out how to address them, and the IDOE is leaving a lot of those decisions to local officials.

McCormick stressed the need for families and students to work together with their local school officials to finish the school year as strongly as possible. For those who are angry, she said, direct the anger at her and IDOE.

“If you’re going to be upset with someone, be upset with me,” she said. “And support your local schools.”




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