Virtual learning extended for some NED schools


DUBOIS — Students at Northeast Dubois Junior-Senior High School and Northeast Dubois Intermediate School will be doing virtual learning at home this week and next.

While there have been people who have tested positive for COVID-19, the reason for going virtual is because so many staff members were close contacts of people who have the virus, Superintendent Bill Hochgesang said.

“We weren’t able to have enough staff to have school in person,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “It centered at the intermediate school, and went from there. By the time you do all the contact tracing, it affected the other building.”

The school district announced on Tuesday that it would have a virtual learning day for all schools on Wednesday due to COVID-19 cases. Officials announced on Wednesday morning that the virtual learning would continue for all schools except Northeast Dubois Elementary because of the number of staff members that have been identified as close contacts. In-person learning is scheduled to resume on Monday, Oct. 26, which is after fall break.

All three buildings had people who were close contacts, “but we were able to get enough staff to keep the elementary [students attending class] in person,” Hochgesang said. “We had to move some staff around to make that happen.”

About a dozen of Northeast Dubois Intermediate School’s staff are in quarantine. “So you can see how difficult that becomes,” Hochgesang said, “trying to continue in-person learning when half of your staff is out of the building.”

Plus, some of the junior-senior high school staff have students attending the intermediate school, which houses grades three to six. So the young students who have either tested positive or have been in close contact can’t stay home alone or go to a babysitter because of their quarantine.

“We have teachers who are parents who have to stay home with their children,” Hochgesang said. “They may take turns with their spouse, but they have to take some days off.

“It just snowballs.”

The buildings will continue to be cleaned and sanitized daily, Hochgesang said.

“We feel real good that we have been doing our due diligence there, and have been all along,” he said.

Extracurricular activities will continue at the high school, so long as the coaches, sponsors and students involved are not in quarantine, Hochgesang said.

“It’s not a huge number of students that have been affected by this,” Hochgesang said. “Our reason for going virtual is because of the lack of staff to be able to be present and provide in-person learning. It’s more of a staffing issue than anything.”

Intermediate school sports are mostly in between seasons at this time. Basketball practice was scheduled to start at the school prior to fall break. “But we decided that we needed to keep that clean break for that building,” Hochgesang said. “So we canceled those early practices.”

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