Some schools move to hybrid, virtual learning


Northeast Dubois Junior-Senior High School is moving to a hybrid learning model.

Starting Monday, students at the school will be in the classroom two days each week and will stay home for three days.

“It’s starting to get to where we’re going to have too many staff [members] out,” Northeast Superintendent Bill Hochgesang said. “We have a good number of students out. We’ve seen an increase in cases and an increase in contact tracing, students who are out because of close contacts.

Students will be broken up into groups based on their last name. One group will be at school on Mondays and Wednesdays, the other group on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All students will be home on Fridays.

“We can have good spacing in our classes if we have half of the kids here, so that we can have proper social distance, and hopefully continue on,” Hochgesang said. “If the county and our school and everything start to improve, we can go back to in-person learning.”

Because of scheduled testing for all juniors and a few seniors, those students will be at school on Monday, Nov. 23, and will have a virtual learning day on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

The school is trying to avoid having to move to a complete virtual model. But the number of staff members who are out is making it difficult to keep the in-person learning system going, Hochgesang explained.

“We’re right on the verge where if we have one or two more [out], we’re going to have to go virtual. We won’t have the staff left to continue in person,” he said. “Hopefully, this can help keep our staff in the classroom, where they’re doing their best work.”

The intermediate and elementary schools are able to continue in-person learning.

“We have some effects of COVID at the other buildings, but not to the extent” as the high school, Hochgesang said. “In grades seven to 12, they exchange classes. A student will have seven different classes during the day, whereas in our pre-K-to-6 scenario, they’re in a self-contained class. If we have an outbreak in that classroom, we can quarantine that classroom or go [to] e-learning for that classroom. But it wouldn’t affect the rest of the students in that grade or the rest of the school.”

Hochgesang said the administration will re-evaluate the situation there right before Thanksgiving. Parents and the district community will be told what the school's plan will be for students starting Monday, Nov. 30, which is after Thanksgiving break.

“Hopefully, we’ve seen the peak and now we’re going down, but you never know,” Hochgesang said. “You just have to keep watching the data every day and make the best decision for the kids and the staff.”

Greater Jasper students in grades eight to 12 moved to virtual learning Wednesday; that is to last through Tuesday, Nov. 24, which is up to Thanksgiving break. They are scheduled to return to in-person learning on Monday, Nov. 30. The reason given for the change was an increase in the number of positive cases and close contact situations. District Superintendent Tracy Lorey was in a meeting Thursday afternoon, and could not be reached for comment before press time.

The Southeast Dubois School Corporation has no plans of moving to any e-learning right now, Superintendent Jamie Pund said.

“As of right now, our numbers do not reflect a need for us to consider going to a hybrid model or virtual model at this time,” she said. “We are monitoring our numbers multiple times every day, just to make sure we are staying in tune with the number of cases and the number of close contacts.”

Southwest Dubois Superintendent Tim LaGrange could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon because he was in a meeting.

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