Schools announce plans in response to coronavirus

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

In an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, local schools are closing their doors until April 6.

Following a meeting Friday between county school superintendents and the Dubois County Health Department’s emergency response team, the four county school corporations announced their plans to close the schools and move to e-learning until April 6.

There will be no school or e-learning March 23 through March 27 as that is spring break.

Events, extracurricular activities and practices are also canceled. Each corporation has a plan in place to provide meal service to families facing food insecurity, to return daily medications to students and to have school buildings thoroughly cleaned and sanitized during the closure.


Greater Jasper

In a parent letter posted to the Greater Jasper Facebook page, Superintendent Tracy Lorey announced the schedule for the four schools under her leadership. Class will not be in session on Monday, March 16, or Monday, March 30. These days will be used for teachers to plan and communicate e-learning lessons. Jasper students will complete coursework online from Tuesday, March 17, through Friday, March 20, and from Tuesday, March 31, through Friday April 3. During e-learning days, teachers will maintain regular work hours to be available for student support.

Grab-and-go lunches will be available to students whose parents sign up for them.

To help the corporation prepare for the closure, parents and guardians are asked to fill out the online survey here.

School officials will continue to monitor the situation and work with local and state departments, the letter said.

“The decision to alter our established school operations is one that it not taken lightly,” Lorey wrote in the letter. “We understand the potential concerns and hardships this may cause as families try to manage the changes. However, it is vital that we play our part in minimizing spread of the virus to vulnerable populations.”


Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity Catholic School announced on Facebook that it will also close its locations until April 6.

“As a community of faith, we ask that you pray especially for the sick, health care providers, public health officials, and all community leaders during the weeks to come,” the post said.

The school will use e-learning days to continue instruction Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 20, and Monday, March 30, through Friday, April 3.

“The Department of Health also continues to stress that during this extended school closure, it will be important to limit interaction with those outside of your household,” the post said. “The school closure is not an appropriate time for large gatherings of students. Students should use this time to focus on their e-learning activities.”


Northeast Dubois

Northeast Dubois Superintendent Bill Hochgesang announced the closure of the four schools under his leadership effective at 5 p.m. Friday. The corporation will continue instruction through e-learning days Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 20, and Tuesday, March 31, to Friday, April, 3. School will not be in session on Monday, March 30. Instead, teachers will use this time to plan further e-learning lessons.

All sporting events, practices and extracurriculars are also canceled, and school buildings are closed to the public.

Grab-and-go meals will be provided to students who wish to participate. Meals for the entire week can be picked up at the Northeast Dubois High School cafeteria on Monday, March 16, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We feel this is necessary for food insecurities,” Hochgesang wrote in a letter to parents. “If food insecurity is an issue and this time is not appropriate for your situation, please call the corporation office at 812-678-2781 ext. 415 and we can make other arrangements.”

A copy of the parent letter and additional information is available on the corporation website at www.nedubois.k12.in.us.


North Spencer

North Spencer Superintendent Dan Scherry announced the closure of the five schools he leads Friday afternoon.

“The Spencer County Health Department, like those of surrounding counties, has issued a recommendation for us to close schools for an unprecedented length of time in order to provide a larger window for study and charting the COVID-19 viral pandemic,” he wrote in a letter to parents.

North Spencer school buildings will be closed through Friday, April 3. Students will have the day off Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17, as teachers prepare for e-learning and assist students and families with connectivity issues. Information regarding e-learning within the corporation can be found on the corporation website at www.nspencer.k12.in.us.

E-learning lessons will begin Wednesday, March 18, and continue through April 3, with a break for March 23-27 for spring break.

Extracurricular activities and practices are also canceled. That decision will be reassessed the week of March 30.

“Most of us know and appreciate the gut wrenching, hand wringing decision this is,” Scherry wrote. “It is difficult to see past our own comfort. However, I believe in the spirit and grit of North Spencer. I believe this experience will be a fluid, imperfect time in our history. I believe this is the right thing to do given the information with which we have been provided.”


Southeast Dubois

Southeast Dubois Superintendent Jamie Pund is also closing the schools under her leadership.

“In the interest of preserving public health, all SED schools will be closed beginning March 16, 2020 through Friday, April 3, 2020,” Pund wrote in a letter.

Class will not be in session on Monday, March 16, or Monday, March 30. These days will be used for teachers to plan and communicate e-learning lessons. Students will complete coursework online from Tuesday, March 17, through Friday, March 20, and from Tuesday, March 31, through Friday, April 3. As of Friday at 5 p.m. all extracurricular events and practices are canceled. Any previously scheduled events during the closure period are canceled.

Cafeteria personnel will provide grab-and-go meals to students who wish to participate during the closure beginning Tuesday, March 17.

A copy of the letter can be found on Pine Ridge Elementary’s Facebook page.


Southwest Dubois

Superintendent Tim LaGrange announced the closure of the four schools he leads as well. Class will not be in session on Monday, March 16, or Monday, March 30. These days will be used for teachers to plan and communicate e-learning lessons. Students will complete coursework online from Tuesday, March 17, through Friday, March 20, and from Tuesday, March 31, through Friday, April 3. As of Friday at 5 p.m., all extracurricular events and practices are canceled. Any previously scheduled events during the closure period are canceled.

Cafeteria personnel will provide grab-and-go meals to students who wish to participate during the closure period beginning Tuesday, March 17. Details of this plan will be released on Monday March 16.

“Further guidance and communications will continue as this situation continues to change as updated information is provided,” LaGrange wrote in the letter.

A copy of the letter — as well as a Spanish version — is available through the Southridge middle and high school Facebook pages.


Local libraries

Jasper Public Library and the Dubois County Contractual Library — which oversees the Birdseye, Dubois and Ferdinand branches — are canceling all programming through April 5. The libraries will remain open for all other services, including computer and internet service for area students without internet access at home to use while schools are closed.

Huntingburg Public Library will remain open and host its programs until further notice.

Both library systems are taking precautionary measures such as putting toys away and sanitizing high traffic areas.




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